Ugly

I haven’t been writing lately and I’ve told myself it’s because I haven’t had time, which is partly true.  The bigger truth though, is that I haven’t really wanted to give voice to most of the thoughts I’ve been having.  I’ve been overwhelmed and overstressed, with negativity and exhaustion ruling my days, complaining and cursing the problems I’ve been facing.

IMG_3650As of right now, I’ve been acting as executive director of Redeemed for almost 3 months and to be honest, it’s been more difficult than I ever could have imagined.  I’m emotionally raw from the challenges that come from working with trauma survivors.  Mentally, I’m spent as my wheels continually turn over the responsibilities of leading an organization.  My physical self is so tired from days spent in meetings, in the car, constantly on call, and networking with donors and service providers.  My spirit feels empty, despite working for a faith based organization; this is probably the hardest to deal with as a missionary.

I’m praying, I’m reading the Bible, I’m going to church and participating in small groups, but it all seems hollow right now. I’m just a big fake and it sucks.

 “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18

I’m trying really hard to get to that second part, rejoicing despite the barrenness of my soul.  I want to have the strength of faith that allows me to praise him in all circumstances, to have the constitution of Paul, but I’m just not there yet.

I have too much anger, too much grief.

I’m sitting right now in our assessment center, or emergency shelter if you will, with our last client waiting for placement.  Lack of funding has forced us to close our doors and I’m pissed off about it.  Because of money, we’ve had to lay off a staff that gave their all in a place of constant crisis.  We’ve had to push out women who are still experiencing trauma, and put them into circumstances where they won’t be getting the kind of care they need.

I don’t know how to rejoice in this circumstance. As a believer I know that God has a plan and that beauty will come from these ashes, but right now I only feel the pain of the pruning that is taking place.  Even this post has been written over the course of several days, as I bounce through my emotions, and my writing reflects my disjointedness.

All of this rambling to say it’s hard right now.  Mission work is hard.  Ministry is hard.  Staying positive and being a good leader during times like this is really hard.  I’d appreciate your prayers.

What just happened?

So it turns out becoming a missionary and being in graduate school and having a family is kind of a lot to do.  It’s all, “YAY I’m a missionary!” and then life starts moving so fast you don’t have time to do things like grocery shop and pretty soon your kids are complaining about starving and not exaggerating for once!

It’s been a crazy couple of months.  I lost my car in the flooding back in April and within 24 hours was on a plane to Orlando for a conference.  No sooner had I landed a few days laIMG_3575ter did I get to go car shopping so that life could go on uninterrupted.  Inconvenient, but it could have been worse.  Within a week of replacing my car, we had a water leak in the house that caused us to have to rip up all of the flooring in about half the house and we’re just now putting the mess back together.

 

A friend told me that if satan was working this hard against me I must be doing something good.  I’m not sure how good, but I’ve certainly been busy!  The majority of April and May were spent getting ready for my director’s upcoming (now) sabbatical in which I would be stepping into his role.  It was a busy time in the ministry in general, with a lot of transition and a lot of emotion; we had staff members transitiIMG_8102on out of the ministry and women move on from our program, as well as new staff come in and start learning the ropes.  Our assessment center has new ladies being referred in constantly, and one moved into our long term restoration program.  We’ve dealt with health issues, both physical and mental, and celebrated a baptism with one of our sweet ladies.  Criminal charges have been dropped against another, and the women in our restoration program volunteered to serve the homeless.  The last several months have certainly been full.

So now it’s June and I have stepped (temporarily) into the Executive Director role for Redeemed and things are still standing 🙂  Please pray for me and the ministry over the next 6 months as we make our way without our regular leaders… pray that it will be a growth process for all involved.

Also, I’ve been so busy that fundraising has been a total afterthought… I’d love to talk to people about this ministry and what I’m doing so if anyone is interested in supporting me or Redeemed, please let me know! 🙂

I’m a Missionary. Don’t laugh.

I feel like I’ve wanted to be a missionary for ages now, but if you knew me even 10 years ago this would sound like a colossal joke.  But here I am, a domestic missionary, working in the field of anti-trafficking.

Over the last few years I’ve been on multiple foreign mission trips, I’ve started seminary (almost halfway through… YAY!!), and worked with Redeemed Ministries, all while going about my life as a wife and homeschooling mom of 2 crazy girls.  Last year I accepted the position of Houston Director of Operations with Redeemed, which was a bit daunting but has been great.IMG_7453

Well, I’m still the Director of Operations but have recently been taken on as missionary staff, which means not only am I an official missionary (!!!), I get to start raising support so that I can be funded like an official missionary!

That may not sound like a fun thing, or a perk of the job, but I’m actually pretty excited about it.  I’ve raised support for my mission trips in the past and used to dread “begging” for money and risking rejection when I asked for support.  But I realized as I’d go on these trips, people weren’t giving me money, they were offering their prayers and financial blessings for the work that God was going to be doing on these missions.

I love my job. I get to work with law enforcement, with other non-profits and agencies, meet fascinating people and be in ministry with people I love and respect.  No two days are ever the same and things can change in a moment.

I have the privilege of working with survivors of some of the most horrific traumas imaginable.  They bring me to tears, and they provide me with some of the most hysterical laughter.  I end every day knowing that I am exactly where God wants me to be.

I’m so grateful for the place I am in my life. I’m ecstatic that God has realized my dream of becoming a missionary. And I’m going to embrace every part of it, which includes raising support for the awesome work that God has called me to do with survivors of human trafficking 🙂

Well hello there…

It’s been so long since I posted anything, for a variety of reasons. Busy, moody, exhausted, overwhelmed, or… just nothing to say.

I’m at the end of a quarter at school and my head is full of stuff, so I’ll share some pictures from the beautiful weekend my husband and I took last week in Nachitoches, Louisiana.

 

Hopefully I’ll come back with some actual words soon! 🙂

You’ve Been on My Mind

Over the last couple of weeks I had a situation come up where I felt God calling me to share some things about my life that I haven’t thought about in a long time. I spent quite a bit of time thinking, remembering, and writing out what I would talk about… and it was hard.

As I was sifting through memories of bad decisions and experiences, I thought about people I spent time with and wondered how they might have turned out over the subsequent years. I considered how much my life has changed over the last 10, 15, 20 years and imagined… and hoped… that theirs had too.

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Nick, at my surprise 21st birthday party

I thought mostly about my friend Nick.

I met Nick my freshman year of high school when he was dating a friend of mine. They broke up but he and I stayed friends, going out on weekends and drinking and partying with friends. He was a couple of years ahead of me but we stayed friends when he went off to college out of state, going out and partying when he’d come into town on breaks. We stayed friends through getting married, having kids, getting jobs…. growing up! He was a troublemaker who always had a smile on his face and plan for a good time.

Some of my favorite memories involve Nick and some kind of ridiculous hijinks instigated by him over the course of our 20+ year friendship. I could tell him anything and know that I’d get the truth, without judgment (but possibly some teasing).

A few years ago, Nick got divorced and his life changed quite a bit. His wife and I never got along very well I’m afraid, but the divorce cut his free spirit free of any and all tethers to a stable life and Nick lost his footing. His drinking and partying, which had abated during the family years, stepped back up and he hooked back up with some old friends from past days. I was concerned, but I didn’t push the issue… he was Nick, and he was invincible. While I had moved on from that lifestyle, I wasn’t going to judge him for it. Then he moved in with a girl and saw his sons less and less, and I grew even more worried. The time between our visits grew longer, but he was still there for me.

And then he wasn’t. Almost 2 years ago he suddenly had a massive stroke one day at work and died instantly at 39 years old.

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Nick and I, Oct. 3, 2015

Now I wonder, did he regret the choices he was making? Did his choices lead to what happened? Was he happy?

The obvious message here is to treasure the people in our lives because they can be gone at any time. And that’s true. But something we were talking about in our class at church this morning was that we could be gone at any moment and that we should live as though that were the case.

“You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears only for a short while before it vanishes.” James 4:14

I miss my friend. A lot. But he reminds me that I could be gone in an instant, and that I need to take care that I live my life intentionally and leave a legacy of love.