Tuesday, February 16, 2016

City of Children Update #3: Fundraising Goal MET!

      Hello, all! This is just a very quick update on the City of Children fundraising; I do hope to post something longer later this week, but right now I'm swamped with a big Greek exam, graduation forms, tons of reading and writing, Lilli's softball tryouts and dance, and meetings galore! Jesus is keeping us pretty busy!
      As promised, a financial update: Since my last post we have received the final amount for Lilli's cost in full as well as a donation for our deposits, all from one family! Praise the Lord for using these generous people to help further the kingdom! What an impact they have made in our lives, but more importantly in the lives of those to whom we'll be ministering in just a few weeks! In addition, we received another generous donation that we just found out about yesterday from the Bible office here at Lipscomb. You people are incredible! God is SO good and our family is loving watching Him work in your lives! A "thank you" can never cover how grateful we are to everyone who has donated whether it be through monetary gifts, prayer, encouragement, or support. No price tag can fit any of these precious gifts from you.
       If you still have a burning itch to donate, we have a several girls who have not met their goals as of yet. Later today you will be seeing one of those girls as I feature her story on the blog. I can't wait for you to meet her! For now, check out the photo below for a glimpse of our team. This picture was taken (via selfie stick because I'm cool like that) at our first team meeting. Since then, we've added three new members and a couple have felt called to tend to other areas and will not be going with us. However, as God continues to shape this team we know that each person, those staying and those who've left us, have served an important part in the spiritual growth of our little team, corporately and individually.
      Thank you all again and stay tuned for more updates, photos, blog features, and blessings!



Sunday, February 7, 2016

City of Children: Update #2

      It has been an overwhelmingly, crazy, busy few weeks. I do apologize for not posting an update sooner, but I have hardly even had time to sleep let alone type a blog post. It kills my soul to not be able to write whenever this hyper, joyously-nerdy heart wills it, but any free time that I have is so precious, I must reserve it for my family and my Jesus. As a result, writing falls last on the list. Oh, but when graduation finally arrives in May, I will drive readers (a.k.a. you) and every publishing company insane (hopefully) with my words.
     Since my last post we have been riding on what seems like a never ending roller coaster at the Disney World for Missionaries. At times I've wondered if we were going to be knocked out of the coaster car in which we're strapped due to the many twists, swerves, and unexpected side-to-side, whiplashing jerks. However, the ride has never stopped. In fact, it seems to be getting faster and faster.
      The week after we agreed to follow God's call and lead the trip to Mexico, the bottom of the sky fell out, as Jordan likes to say, and the floods began to overtake us...both good and bad. We received an enormous $500 donation from family that still has us reeling. We are in complete awe of their faith in us, in God, and their faithfulness to God. It's been beautiful to watch Him work in their lives, and they have blessed us more than they can imagine with their gift, and most importantly their prayers. After this we received three more gifts of $100 a piece from friends, all beyond sacrificial, all so important in the furtherance of the kingdom. We are undone by their willingness to support and encourage us in this missional endeavor, and our cups overflow at their generosity. Again, we know they're consistently praying for us, showering our family, our team, and the City with intercessory prayer. What a blessing these people have been! As a result, we are to the halfway mark in our fundraising! PRAISE THE LORD! We only lack about $450 until we reach our goal. However, there is still the need for our $450 deposit that is solely our responsibility. Please pray we come up with this deposit quickly. This leads me to the latter of what we're referring to as "undercover blessings."
      The Holy Spirit had been conveying to mine many things to come over the weeks leading up to the trip discussions. I felt Him readying me one day and I looked at Jordan and said, "I feel like something big is about to happen...it's going to be good but it's also going to be tough. But i have no idea what!" He immediately knew what I was talking about as he'd been feeling it, too. Sometimes God communicates these things to us to prepare us. So we prayed. Shortly thereafter we were approached about leading the trip, and the coaster ride began.
      As I said earlier, we've had some downs to accompany our ups; that's par for the course with ministry, though, isn't it? We traveled home a few weeks ago to specifically visit with my extended family, when an opportunity for Jordan to make some extra farming cash while home in Georgia presented itself as well. Excited and blessed, we talked about using it for our deposit. Then, like a ticking time bomb had exploded in our faces, the trials came tumbling in, one right after the other. Stop for a second: did I really think we were gonna come out of this unscathed and not have to work for it all? 
      The following weekend I was supposed to go on the leadership trip to Mexico. Coincidentally this was the same weekend of the 2016 Blizzard in Nashville. But the week's beginning had already gotten off to a rocky start. A few days before, I had visited family to be with my Uncle Vic for what would inevitably my "goodbye visit" with him, though I didn't know it at the time. He was sick, so his death wasn't surprising, per se, but the loss of a loved one is never expected no matter what. I don't believe the heart can truly let go until the sick are no longer suffering, but walking eternally with the Savior. Grieving away from family rather than with them is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do on my own. I hope to never have to alone grieve like that again. I had Jordan and Lilli, and they understood as best they could, but they weren't very close to Uncle Vic; I needed to be with my Nanna (his sister), my aunt and my cousins, and my parents and Chase.
      The funeral was scheduled for the following weekend, the weekend I was to travel to Mexico for training. I was so torn: did I go to the funeral, or did I fulfill my responsibility to my calling? On paper it looks like a no-brainer, but in the midst of the decision-making it was heavy burden to bear. I spoke to my aunt the day after Uncle Vic died; her words are still with me: "He's proud of you. He would rather you be doing what God wants you to do than be here at a funeral." Her encouragement offered more of a release than she'll ever know. So I made my decision to continue forward, and I was able to grieve properly. The day of the funeral I spoke with my cousin Chrissie, Uncle Vic's daughter, and she relayed the same heartfelt message. Oh, my heart...how I will be forever grateful to them all for their encouragement and support.
       That Thursday Jordan went to change a headlight in his car, a routine maintenance that takes all of ten minutes and a screwdriver. When he reentered his car to crank it, the starter no longer worked. A $78 tow-bill to LaVergne, Tennessee revealed that it wasn't the starter, rather it was his engine. Poor ole Henry Honda had bit the dust for good and we were out a good $6,000 and a car. Thankfully, the man holding the car was willing to buy it off from us, although not at full price. Nevertheless, Jordan's aunt was selling her car and we scored a pretty sweet deal on it. Needless to say, but a blessing just the same, the previous weekend's farm earnings went toward the down payment on the car. As a result, we are the proud new owners of a 2003 granny car, as Jo likes to call it. We were able to meet his parents in Manchester a few days later and get the car from them so we didn't have to drive all the way to Atlanta for it, praise God!
      The following Friday morning our yard was clear as was the 6am sky, and we were leaving for the Nashville airport. I was to board an 8am flight headed for San Diego, then a bus ride down to Mexico for the leadership weekend at the City. Within ten miles from leaving our house the sky opened and the greater Nashville area became a snow globe. We had no choice but to turn around and head to the house. It took us forty-five minutes to get back home after braving giant snowflakes, icy roads, and stranded cars jammed against telephone poles, each other, or just sitting in the road. It was a miracle from Jesus that we made it home at all. When we arrived, we slid into our garage, not to leave for two days. There was no leadership trip for me. And there was no movement at all for Nashville.
      Within all of this we had another family member and family-friend death one week exactly after my uncle's passing. I couldn't be home with my people for any of these. And in this chaotic whirlwind we've had some issues surrounding our house. I'll write about these at a later date because this post is long enough and I'm emotionally exhausted from writing it. To keep your hearts at ease, everything is okay with the house; but please, keep us in your prayers concerning it and God's will with it in our lives.
      All of the above occurrences have remained interwoven with each other. One day we'll get a donation, the next we'll be knocked down by the enemy. Lots of face-planting, but lots of face-praising, too. We're counting it all joy and we're remembering our faith is being strengthened in the process.
      Over the weekend we had our team retreat at our house. This was a time for fellowship with our team (ALL GIRLS!) and a time when we were to get some planning accomplished for the City's VBS. I only have one word for the weekend's outcome: WOW. The girls opened up spiritually and socially, we discussed trials and the blessings within, salvation experiences, callings, they ate and ate and ate some more...like a football team! They became more comfortable as a team and with our leadership; walls came down and the Spirit moved in our living room around a circle of almost 20 young women and our little family. It was a such a blessing to see the fruits of our waiting on God for the past year begin to ripen before our very eyes. I am in awe of Him and His hand.
      You will soon be meeting some of the girls from the team. We are going to feature their stories on the blog here! If you feel the need to donate or just to share their stories further, please do! As younger people, their boundaries only go so far and their connections are still limited. We thought we'd help them out in their fundraising and prayer circles by sharing our territories to increase theirs. It's going to be exciting so get ready!
      In all, the past few weeks have been a hurricane of opportunity, busyness, grief, pain, blessing, wonder, joy, loss, and excitement all rolled into one! We can't wait, again, to see what all God has in store for this trip to the City. We know it's huge or we wouldn't be dealing with so many distractions and so much opposition from the enemy. But we ready ourselves with the full armor of God knowing that He is with us, guiding us and directing our steps so that our feet don't stumble. Sometimes He's carrying us, and sometimes He walks alongside us. Bottom line, as hard as it has been He's never left us. He's met every single need. And we know He'll meet the rest of them.