Monday, December 8, 2014

Promises, being honest, being awesome, and peace

 We've been continuing in our efforts to meet people where they live in a couple of local neighborhoods. Previous blog entries go into a little more detail concerning these places, if you'd like to understand more.
We're just showing up, allowing relationships to be built, and then we go from there with whatever we have to offer.

What we usually find that we have to offer is simply our selves.
To those who think this language is hippie-like and idealistic, that's ok. I get it. It does seem like there would be more to write home about if we could list amazing stories of transformed lives here in this blog.
But we can't... yet.

This is a long road. Building community, helping others identify stress-factors that lead to things like abuse and neglect, isolation, and addiction takes time. Then there's the working alongside of them to help make change and grow in health.
Also, navigating through the mental illness of individuals, or dysfunctional culture of families can be very challenging.
And then there's the whole job thing, and lack of resources. Again, back to the 'Stress-factors'.
Continuing to move forward, being grateful for progress, and refusal to give up is key. But that doesn't always come naturally to people who are stressed out. And it's difficult to do when life gets overwhelming.
Husband lost his job again. Kids need to be clothed, the electric needs to stay on, and the school called again about the stuff going on at home. Oh, and your house burned down with everything in it. Just before Christmas. And there's addiction mixed with treatable mental illness that is causing a lot of stress at home.

So when we start to feel overwhelmed, like nothing is happening, things aren't changing for the better, etc. it's time to evaluate our goals.
We have to believe that friendship, open hands and hearts, humility to learn from others, and being an embodiment of hope actually goes a long way.
We must allow ourselves to be open to learn about God's grace, love, hope, faithfulness, and peace from the people whom we think so badly need it. They certainly do. But so do we.

We show up and go from there.

It's very important to remember that it is a process. Not just a process, but a relationship. One where there's give and take. There's trust. There are failures. Breakdowns in communication. Challenges that go beyond our scope of experience.
And it's very important to believe that we are not alone.
A lot of you that actually know me (Jim) get the opportunity to see the 'awesome' me. The 'inspirational' me. The folks that are near to me see the 'unafraid' me.
And those things are mostly true.
But I act like an angry fool sometimes.
I lose inspiration some days. I forget everything good that I know sometimes.
I wake up some mornings desperately needing to be reminded that God, love, hope, truth, and grace are very real things.
I find myself terrified of what could happen if everything falls apart.
But you know what?
So does every person that we come into contact with. Every neighborhood is full of people that deal with the same stuff.
I think the difference lies in whether or not we walk through it alone.

My good friend Aaron Alford says, "To suffer alone is to despair. To suffer with a friend is to hope."

I whole-heartedly believe in this statement. It makes the difference in how we are shaped by it all, and what we learn from it.
We learn to be honest, and we become secretly awesome. We begin to spill God's love into the world around us. We stop judging. We allow the pain, fear, disappointment and beauty of others to remind us of what is good and real. And we meet with them in it. And we are blessed with eyes to see the good that is happening.

Jesus gave to his friends his peace. For real. He promised that he would never leave them, nor forsake them.
This is the story we are determined to tell with our lives. And it is the story we are ever so longing to be told.
Because a promise is a promise, and we must never let go.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Moving Forward...

Hey there folks.
Just chiming in to tell more of the story.
It's been three months since we decided to launch out again as full-time-non-salary missionaries.
The difference this time around is that we are continuing the work we are called to do, but in Wayne County Ohio.
It's freezing lately... and wet. We are figuring out again how to stay warm.

We've been focusing on two neighborhoods lately. We're making ourselves available to people like Jesus did. Pretty broad description, I know.
But the beautiful part of it is that it's so simple. I'm not saying that it's easy work at all, just that it doesn't have to be complicated.
 Programs don't need to be started, nor do heaps of overhead need to be acquired before we you set out to respond to the needs of others...

We are just supposed to arrive at the place where people are suffering alone, and extend our hearts to them. Open our hands.
One neighborhood in particular that we've been hanging out in, is getting really exciting.

It's full of families, kids, elderly, parolees, addicts, single moms, and just folks who are trying to make it through the day.
We've been spending time getting to know their stories, and sharing ours. The cool part is, now we are a part of each other's stories.
Sometimes we are social-workers. Sometimes we are pastors. Sometimes we are a resource-connection. Sometimes we're counselors, listeners...
But at the end of the day, we are simply a friend.

Isn't that just what everybody is crying out for? To belong? To be found? To have someone just to sit with?

Our family doesn't think that we're special, and we certainly do not want to exploit something so precious as friendship... we're just choosing to spend our full-time life being available to people who are isolated and struggling.

We are partnering with a couple of local churches. At one of which, I (Jimmy) have been teaching/facilitating a class/discussion  to help them unpack concerns for  communities, and assist them in strategic community-building. It's been really cool to be a part of.

Kelly, the kids, and I have been given so much trust in the lives of some families, and it's just awesome to be welcomed in.

People struggle financially, relationally, socially, spiritually. It's hard out there, and we all need to know that we're not alone.
That's the message we hope to send.

Please join us. If you're local and want to know more about how to get involved, let us know!

If you're interested in partnering with us financially, please do! We have raised around 15% of our monthly needs, so we need some help. You can even help through the paypal button on this blog and get a tax-receipt through YWAM Modesto, CA.

We will not stop showing up to turn on the lights where it is dark.

Thanks for coming along,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Show Up...

Just a note to update...

In the last few months, we’ve been working to develop relationships in a local neighborhood, partnering with friends and a couple local churches. 
It has been a beautiful thing to watch simple stuff like meal-sharing, home improvements, games, and conversations make such a difference in people’s lives... including our own.

There are places here in Ohio, California, Thailand, and every place in the world that are broken, isolated, and hopeless.

But the light always pours in from our willing hearts if we let it. Miracles happen when you just show up. Get your marching orders from Jesus, show up, and your ‘to do list’ writes itself.

So many cool things are unfolding in our new friendships. We are excited to see what unravels in the months to come. 

So far, we've had the gift of being invited into complicated family situations to help them work things out. We've gotten opportunities to lead people into healthy social development. We have been blessed with watching kids begin to discover purpose and community. Together with friends, we've had the opportunity to do community events that just communicate how important these families are to us and to God. 
It's pretty awesome to learn so much about life as we listen to the stories of others, and become a part of them.

One should never underestimate the impact they can make from even the most simple interactions with people.
Everyone has their own story… some are stuck in destructive patterns, and are hurting and isolated. 
Let’s meet them there. See what happens.

This is what we’ve chosen ten years ago to give our lives to full-time. It’s been scary and beautiful. 
Some days it feels like hovering over the dark void waiting for the voice of Almighty to speak “light”.

We need some help as we venture into the unknown… wanna come aboard?
You can... Here’s how:

You may make tax-deductible donations on just a one-time basis, or even a monthly basis (you can even set up automatic monthly withdrawal if you wish) here on this blog, using the PayPal button. It will go directly to YWAM Modesto, they will process funds for us, and deposit into our financial institution.

Heartland Christian Center in Wooster, OH has also offered to be an option for channeling tax-deductible donations to us for those of you who wish to do so.
Checks may be sent to:
Heartland Christian Center
1741 Oak Hill Rd
Wooster, OH 44691 
Our names cannot be on checks, only an attached note to indicate that funds be directed to our family.

Thank you, and may God bless you richly with peace.

Jimmy, Kelly, Mila, Zion, Gabriel, and Ezra