Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday and August DeClutter Challenge

Updated to include my Thankful Thursday list . . .

This morning I went over to Iris's over at Sting My Heart (our wonderful Thankful Thursday hostess)here is the verse she is sharing today.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes…” ~ Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV - emphasis Iris's mine)

Iris asked for prayer for a specific ministry please go over and read her post. It was interesting to me because I have been thinking all week about what I wanted to write about today and the thankful list that I wanted to share. I really wanted to write about my house. I know I have mentioned it many,many times but I am just so happy here and the whole thing is, it is because God brought us here. He worked out all the details and then some.

Before I write my list I have to share why this means so much to me. Almost 5 years ago God gave my Cowboy a vision for ministry. To reach an "unreached peoples group" called Teenagers. Specifically at-risk teens. We were laypeople working in youth ministry in our church and he began to see that it was difficult to get the teens to come any time other than our Wednesday outreach activity. We had an amazing youth minister at the time and we had a band that drew in lots of kids. There were many kids that got saved but they never came back to church and they never got discipled. My Cowboy prayed and asked God to show him how we could reach these teens. God spoke to him and the concept of the ministry Auto Mission was birthed.
Cowboy knew that boys like two things cars and girls. He figured he didn't know much about girls (he's still trying to figure me out!) but he knew a little about cars.
After much prayer we invested much of our earnings into the ministry and in the first year our church got on board and supported us with a major amount of money.
In the first year over 300 boys came through our program. They were assigned by teen courts to do community service for misdemeanor offences. We were allowed by the teen courts to "witness" to them. In fact one teen court representative asked us to "witness".
Within the first 6 months we realized the need for a similar girls program. That is how I became full time involved in ministry.

And that is why I began this blog. Because I lost myself. This blog is about My journey back to finding myself, and balancing my personal life with ministry and also about my journey toward a closer relationship with our Lord.

As people say it is so easy to get consumed with things "good things" and loose sight of the Best. Our Lord.

During this first year God Blessed richly Blessed our personal business (my Cowboy was an egg broker) and we were able to put personal money into the ministry. We started all this with only a desire to reach kids. No experience in managing a non-profit only a heart to help.

We learned alot and God blessed us. We had to file with the IRS to become a non-profit. Everyone we spoke to told us it could take months even up to six months.
We got approval for Auto Mission in 3 weeks. Six months later we began the process for Mission Makeover approval came in 2 weeks. Our God provides.
Toward the end of our second year the work that God gave us was overwhelming. Not in a bad way. We were on the top of the roller coaster and going on a ride that we just couldn't believe. Kids were changing their lives. They were staying in school they were staying out of gangs. We were receiving acknowledgement from courts; we were receiving awards. Everything was going great.

In November we went on a cruise with our daughter and friends. While we were away our personal business collapsed. No more personal income. By this time we were a month from celebrating two years in fulltime ministry. We knew that God did not want us to seek out employment and we began the pain stacking process of seeking more financial support for the ministry.

We began a new journey. A faith journey. And this is the journey we are still on today.

We spoke to churches. We spoke to friends and volunteers and spoke to civic groups.
Funds began to trickle in. And when I say trickle, I mean trickle. We did fundraisers. We worked long hours. Our biggest expense was the rent for teen center. We sold personal possessions. We fought.(with each other) Actually I fought. I was a brat. I was frustrated. It is really hard to now rent is due and there is no money for it. We had a commercial building and rent for your own personal home. And some how every month it was there. For everything. It wasn't easy in fact it was really hard. There were times the electric wasn't paid in time. There were times the water wasn't paid. We had to beg the companies to give us a break and turn us back on or not turn us off.
We lost the lease on our first teen center building because the landlord got someone to pay more and on time every month. He gave us two weeks to move. We found another building and stayed for year then that building was sold when our first years lease was up.
We found another building and then lost major support from our State convention because of crazy political stuff within our denomination. We lost support from our church for many reasons but mainly because we began ministering to kids that are actually in the teenager prison. We lost individual supporters because people were just afraid to be involved.

But God provides. And still we go on.

God has provided ways for us to continue to minister to the kids. In January of this year our food pantry project began. The first few months it was hard because we basically did it out of our house. It was an ordeal.

In June we again began to be tested. We were told by our landlady that they needed us to move. (We had been living in our house for a year and a half rent free. She donated the house to us) Our house and 10 acres was prime commercial real estate. Today the house is no longer there and they are building medical offices on the property.
We had to be moved by June 15th.
We began to look and look and pray and look and pray for a house. I began to pray that God would allow us to keep all our animals. Finding a house that we could manage to pay rent on and house all our animals we knew would be a miracle. We knew that God had a plan and that he would not take us this far and then just turn his back on us.
We went through a couple of weeks of so much stress. We found a house just a few blocks from both our mothers. We filled out an application and paid a fee which we really couldn't afford. The people never called us back. We called them a few days later knowing the answer. We continued to look and pack and pack and pack. Not only were we packing our personal belongings but since the loss of the lease on our building all the supplies and files from the ministry and some furniture and the food pantry is in our home. We packed, and packed and packed.

We looked for houses. We prayed and prayed and told everyone we know about our need for a house. We began to call old friends to help take the animals.

We drove over an hour away to look at houses.

Everytime we found something that would meet our needs it would be rented before we got there.

Finally one Saturday after looking all morning we saw a realtor sign. We remembered a realtor that helped us find a house when we moved back here from Missouri. We called her. We told her our needs and she found our house by that evening and that is where we live now.
God provided. We had just enough funds to pay deposits (no pet deposit) and to pay movers to move our big furniture. Because of the situation with Cowboy's knee he couldn't do a lot of lifting.
God provided. God came through. At the 11th Hour he brought us to the most amazing home.
We are Blessed. We are thankful. I know this is a really long post. But for a while God has been placing it on my heart to share more about this Faith journey.
I now a lot of you out there are on similar journeys. I know a lot of you have had struggles with your church homes and hurt and frustrations. I know I have been there. There have been so many times that I have just had to lean not on my own understanding. I have also had to trust when there just didn't seem like there was any hope.
I have no idea what lesson God is teaching us. Things are not better. We barely pay our rent. We barely get the funds we need for the food pantry and our other programs. We barely have money for gas. But we have a home and today I am thankful for our home.

And, we got to bring all our animals, that at present begging for breakfast and so I close this post without the Thankful list I promised but I will add it later after I feed the multitudes.

Update at 2:45
I got called by daughter this morning. Her puppy wasn't feeling well and she was worried so I had to run over and keep the baby while she took the puppy to the vet. It turns out he was having a reaction from shots. He is fine.

Before I begin my list the biggest thing I am thankful for is that I get to work full time in ministry.
Here's my thankful list:
1. I am most thankful for my house. God provided much more for us than we imagined.
2. I am thankful that I am flexible and can help out our daughter at a moments notice when needed.
3. I am thankful that we were able to keep all our horses. We have some acreage for them.
4. I am thankful for my bedroom. I have all my furniture in my bedroom for the first time in 6 years. That means both nightstands, the lingerie chestand the dresser. Plus I added Cowboys rocker and added an armior for the t.v.
(we haven't had a t.v. in the bedroom for over 15 years. I relented. Funny thing is he has watched it one time!)
5. I am thankful that I have a huge master bathroom. No tub but there is a tub just down the hall.
6. I am thankful that my washer and dryer are in the bathroom hidden behind doors.
I know that sounds weird but. Really think about it. We have no kids at home. I can take the sheets right off the bed and put them in the washer.
7. I am thankful that it is exactly 18 steps from the front hall to the bedroom and 15 steps more across the living room to the kitchen. I love the bedroom at the rear of the house and the long hallway for photos.
8. I am thankful for my bedroom closet. It is a real walk in closet. I even have a bench in there that we can sit on. It is a pretty bench we got at my favorite antique shop. I'll take a photo soon. I also have an antique wardrobe on one end that holds our coats. There is a window and I can look out at the someday soon flower garden.
9. I am thankful for the side yard and that I can put in a garden.
10. I am thankful for my kitchen. It is small but it has 32 cabinets. All my dishes are put away and I have clean counters. (Most of the time)
11. I am thankful for a long front porch to hold our 4 wooden rockers with room to spare for more rockers or something pretty.
12. I am thankful I have a sewing room with a view of the large back deck and backyard. And someday soon when I get all the extra boxes out I'll get to enjoy it.
13. I am thankful Cowboy has his own "man" room that he can listen to music, watch his t.v. smoke a cigar (I said it is a "man" room) and entertain our son in love, and read.
14. I am thankful that I have a small entrance hall with the perfect wall to hang a quilt. I already hung my Patriotic quilt. I have to finish my Halloween quilt and get it hung.
15. I am thankful that I have a place for my computer.

And last but not least I am thankful that along with all the above there is the cutest little building just 10 steps across the backyard that we have the food pantry in right now. Someday when we get to get another building our little building will be a potting shed and play house for the grand kids.

And I know that there are many other reasons that I am thankful for but I think I should stop at 15. If there was an award for the longest post of the day it would probably end up here.

I really hope that if you dropped by today that you were Blessed in someway by reading this really,really long post. I hope that some of my ramblings showed you how great our God is and that he is always there to help us and to protect us.

Thank you for stopping in and taking the time to read and please leave a comment.
And don't forget to come by tomorrow for Show and Tell and also visit Kelli.

Oh I almost forgot my De-clutter job today. Remember I mentioned my dresser. Well it has spent the last 4 years as a sofa table in the den. So my de-clutter job is to take all the drawers out and remove everything organize it and find new homes for all the things in it that don't really go in a bedroom and then we can use it for what it was meant for!
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