Friday, September 23, 2011
It has been a long, yet quick, changing journey this last year. It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since we last posted. My what a year can bring! God has swept us into unexpected changes this last year. It has been a fruit bearing, journey changing, enduring with surrender kind of year. A year full of continuous blessings that brought a deeper faith and deeper challenges.
Ok, I’m just going to dive right in. We spent almost a year living on the side of Pastor Rick and Joye’s house. Within that year, we got pregnant with our third child Jachai James who is now 5 months old. What a surprise being that I had an IUD, which is 99.6 percent effective. God just keeps giving us children no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves from it. But He knows best and little Jachai has been a huge blessing in our lives. But with him, came a twist in vision.
We prayed for months asking what to do with a third child? Where will he be born? We had previous homebirths and I birthed in water. Our birthing tub certainly would not fit in our RV. So we mustered up a plan and decided we would birth our child in the church across the street. Or possibly at our dear neighbors house who I love in the deepest parts of me. It was going to be a challenge, no doubt. Just having a newborn with two toddlers in an RV was kind of just insane but we were willing to endure by Gods grace and by the love and strength of all the community we had around us. The community that God brought to us during that year in Simi Valley is almost too overwhelming to put in words. That is for another day.
I remember feeling like a third child was in view due to Josh’s previous vasectomy surgery falling through in an unusual way. That is why we ended up with an IUD as opposed to the snip snip. I remember praying, “ok God, if I have to have another child please bring it in a time that is restful and can you please allow me to have an actual nursery for this child, with a rocking chair to breastfeed!” Having 2 children back to back was madness and we were constantly moving so I never had that cozy place to nurse my babies. I pleaded with God, “Please, please bring a third during a restful season!” At first, I felt my prayer was unheard and it was ok. If I trust God and His perfect and pleasing will, it was all going to be as it should.
We believed that with this new community we had and a third child that we were going to stay put for a while. This is the twist. We had envisioned this last year to be the birth of our organization Exposure World and a time of travel. Again, God showed us something very different to birth but so foundational. Josh ended up going to Bible College and we became a part of a community group through Cornerstone Church (Francis Chan’s old church). This group of people changed our lives in so many ways and we are forever grateful. What an authentic group of hearts. God seemed to ripen our hearts in that year and prepare us for what was to come.
Months into our pregnancy an opportunity arose for us to help plant a church in the Central Valley. This decision would change everything but only for a season. We sought out council and wisdom from the ones we so deeply trusted and prayed for months. Really God? Did you really want us to pick up and move again, put Josh as a youth Pastor and head towards cows and farms…. and NO OCEAN? We wrestled but God made it clear that we needed to go. And get this, the pay for Josh’s new ministry was a parsonage. A church owned house that was directly behind the church. Yes, the house needed a tremendous amount of work before it was even livable, but my prayer had been answered. God gave us a large house to birth another child with an orange rocking chair! Thank you Jesus!
It was Christmas Eve of last year at about 10pm that we were headed to the small town of Exeter. This move was great. We just got in the RV and drove. No packing this time! Josh’s parents live in Exeter and all of this came up because Josh’s father, Dave had planted a church and needed help. The position of a youth director became available and Josh went for it. Never did Josh ever imagine he would be placed in such a challenging role but God prepared our hearts for the task.
We ended up living in Josh’s parents house until the end of March. We were able to move into the parsonage just a few weeks before Jachai arrived. WOW! This house required so much work and by the grace of God, we were so willing to make this place awesome. God knew that Josh and I were perfect for the job because we love this kind of stuff. But I’m not going to lie, by the end of all of this…I will be ok if I never have to paint again! Yep, I was painting and puttying, stripping and deep cleaning while 7-9 months pregnant. It was crazy but so worth it. This parsonage now has some spice to it and we are so excited to walk away from it leaving it for the next people. I will have to post pictures of the progress of this house. What an adventure it has been.
I will mention it again; God has been so gracious. We came here with nothing. We didn’t even have beds. Everything we once had to fill a home was given away. We never expected to be in this situation. I think God just wanted to show off. Within weeks we had more than we ever could have imagined. We were given bookshelves, a dinner table, couches, desks…. and yes, a gracious family decided to by our entire family new mattresses! And they were even organic and 100% non-toxic. Of course I loved that! God is so good! We do not deserve any of it!!!
I am going to end this post and will fill you in on all the rest gradually. There is so much. Thank you everyone for your prayers and wisdom. We are nothing without God and his beautiful community he has placed in our lives.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Joyful is sick...again. That is definitely not wonderful. However, if I truly believe that all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, then I must be able to find joy in these things. After all, that's why we named her Joyful. We want her to grow into what we named her. And being full of joy doesn't mean situations have to be perfect. Quite the contrary. In James 1 it says that we are to consider it pure joy to face trials of many kinds, because that testing of our faith produced perseverance. And perseverance must finish it's work so we can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.
James 1 is one of those passages I love. If it's possible to overuse scripture, then that's what I do with that one. Its only because I am totally blown away by that concept. And that is something I strive for in my life...my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, and most importantly, my relatoinship with Jesus.
Well anyhoo, after realizing our daughter was sick...and after some moments of frustration, we came to a peace about Gods perfect timing. Are you kidding me. After all He has done for us in the perfect nick of time, we are still getting frustrated with the situations??? That's ridiculous! It's funny how I can read in the Old Testament where the Israelites get bailed out so many times only to lose faith after things didn't go their way for a short while and think, "are you guys idiots, or what?" And then I think about my life and actually look in the mirror at my doubts and realize how true it is that,
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
We must lean on Him...ALWAYS! It might be new to us, but to Him it's old news. And He has a solution... ALWAYS!
Which leads me to my point, it's never about the boogers. You see, the other night my wife was digging for gold up her nose and decided it would be funny to wipe her finger on me. Well I got all sensitive and wanted to discuss things. Long story short, we had an amazing talk that we both needed to have. And we are closer and stronger as a couple because of it.
I've heard it said that the little things take care of the big things. I think that is true with good and bad stuff that goes on with us and how we choose to deal with it. We can never controll a situation completely. We can always controll our reactions, even though sometimes we don't think that's true. God always provides a way out for us to stand under. Always.
So I think the saying should go, "God is in controll of the little things, that take care of the big things when we abide in Him, always". And it's never just about the booger.
Friday, February 5, 2010
God provides. God loves us. It’s a Biblical promise. Boy we have been pushing that to the test more than ever and with it, of course God has shown up and provided. Although I don’t quite understand why Jesus loves us so much and is the One and Only that follows through with every one of His words and promises, it does not matter. God does not need to explain anything. He already explains so much through His living Word, Jesus and his Apostles. The Old Testament, The Hebrew Bible; wow how we learn so much that is so undeserving. Some things we just can’t question, just as a child with their parent. As a child, we are to do by our parent’s will without always having an explanation. The same goes for God. We are his children and He… the authority that we cannot question. It’s a thin line between the wrestles in our hearts and pure obedience.
The unconditional kind of love. I have it for my husband, my children and my family. They are not perfect but its deep and absolutely unconditional. The same goes for God if we are His children. Why so hard to grasp? Why so hard to accept? The mystery in our guilt and shame. The metaphors in the cycles of life. Its mindful, its deep, its love… “three flames” kind of love.
Because of God’s undeserving love, my family has been more than provided for. We have gone from next to no funds, no legal place to park to a permanent resting spot and what feels like overflowing funds. Praise Jesus, right?!!! It all happened in one day’s time. It felt miraculous…divine and created throbbing explosive hearts.
Last week we were driving away from one of our friend’s house that we were parking in front of a few times a week, and everything changed. We no longer were able to park in front of the houses that we were week after week. We had asked a couple churches if we could stay in their parking lots but of course there are legalities that inhibit us from doing so. We had 5 dollars to our name; half of it was in quarters! Milk and bananas were all we needed. We thank the Lord we had a full refrigerator of food. We had been in deep prayer for days for God to provide. We had some bills due and needed gas. The main reason we were in this situation was because we gave our all to our new home on wheels, we had to fix some things up and keep food in our bellies. Keeping Josh away from Bartending has been a huge test of faith to say the very least. Deciding to change careers in the middle of this economy without a degree but rather 15 years restaurant experience has been far from easy. The job that we do have pays once a month as opposed to twice and Josh was forced to quit his airport job due to lack of transportation. That’s a long story but the job is no longer. So one income that pays once a month seemed far away considering our shallow pockets.
We had moments of desperation to the point that Josh and I went and applied to over a dozen restaurant jobs which we new God did not want us to have any part of. Not that serving in a restaurant or managing is a bad thing; it is just not for us in this season of life. God confirmed that in both of our hearts separately and after the whirlwind of applications we knew God would have to provide another way. We again had another desperate moment where we asked our friend who Josh does some graphic design/sales business with to give us an advance in pay. It completely went against our desire to trust God. We became fearful and we knew it was not the right thing to do if we wanted God to show up. Thank Jesus that our friend was on the same heart beat as us with his ability to discern what was the right thing. His strength and discernment brought the same out in us. We drove away from our friend’s house into the unknown with complete joy in our hearts knowing God was going to show up!
Once we got our hearts lined up with faith, there Jesus was with the road all paved out for us. It took one phone call to a friend who had many years experience with RVs that revealed our path. Not only did this fiery man help us understand all the mechanics of Grace (our RV) that much more, he also happened to have a mother who needed some yard work done. Josh jumped on that so fast and we figured it would be some extra gas money. Turns out it is a 3week project that involves a big chunk of change! We paid our bills, filled our tank along with our refrigerator once again! Josh loves the dirty hands on kind of jobs so he was feeling blessed.
This is far from the whole story. The fiery RV friend goes to a church in Simi Valley and after talking with Josh’s Dad he confirmed that we should call his Pastor to see if we could park in his church. Its secluded and beautiful so they thought it would be perfect for us. We got the pastors phone number and Josh set up a meeting. Last Wednesday night we all met with hopes that we would have a place to park and plug in. We prayed and let it rest in Jesus’ hands.
The meeting ended with power. It was amazing. Pastor Rick and his wife Joye lived in an RV for six years when they first bought their church, The Live Ride. God eventually provided them with a home about 20 feet from their church. While working on their home, they stayed in their RV on the side of their house. They had the whole thing set up for an RV. Access to plug in, dump, water, and Internet access. It’s all here! Through prayer they felt like God wanted us there and we now live on the side of their house where their RV once was. We have more than we ever thought possible. We experienced their church for the first time Sunday and what a special place it is. The Pastor was a former drug addict and so is much of his congregation. The Spirit is powerful in that place.
With that being said, this community is heavy. You can feel the warfare and we mentioned it to Pastor Rick and in his response, he did not skip a beat. He confirmed the heaviness and we know that we must put our armor on everyday. He has seen and experienced crazy things in this community. Josh and I knew this was a blessing but it was also a challenge. A challenge we are so willing to embrace. We are so thankful and once again in awe by how Jesus takes care of us. We have plans to bless this church. We want to give back.
Journeying on the narrow path I found myself a job. Or it found me. Josh’s sister Jenysia’s best friend just had a baby. A little boy. She is going back to work in 3 weeks and needs a nanny 4 times a week. My first reaction was no way. I just didn’t think I could handle it mentally and emotionally. I was looking for work outside of children. I wanted some interaction away from baby talk. As Josh and I were praying that night, not at all about that job opportunity, I felt like God revealed to me that I needed to take that job. It got to the point that I couldn’t not do it. It was so strong. In my heart, I was like man! Really God? Ok fine, Ill do it (dragging my feet of course). I know crazy on my end, as if I had so many other choices. Amusing how we can get like that!
God took me down the path of visuals that showed me what a blessing this opportunity is. A house to spend time in with a bath, a place to do laundry and a pool in the backyard where Josh and I can teach our kids how to swim. On top of all that,
this child is going to receive so much prayer and love that I know will comfort the mom. It’s where I need to be. No doubt. So with that job and working on photography and web stuff for our friend Mike who works with the non-profit Life Without Limbs (Check out the website, amazing!)… We are filled with that Living kind of Water that Jesus talks about. It streams with Joy, with experience, a deeper faith, fulfillment and a sound mind. Faith expressing itself through love. What else is there?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Living day by day, stripped of most that I have known, am comfortable with, is gone. We don’t have much and God is literally providing by the hour. I was just handed a sponge from a new sister and friend. I’m fighting the tears. I see so many things as a gift these days…all the way down to a kitchen sponge! I’m filled with gratitude and thanks towards the Love and provision of Jesus. Boy is Jesus real and alive. Each day I am realizing how big Jesus really is. I’ve never been so stripped . I now have different eyes to see. I see so much more than I used to.
I am fighting to have complete reliance on God. I’m sure I could be stripped of so much more and that reliance will deepen. Why is it so often like that? We need God when things are not easy and when things are great; it’s easy to not need Him as much. When we are happy we give thanks but we don’t need Him like we do when it feels like we have nothing. When it feels like He is all we have. I wish I were strong enough to overcome this and perhaps all this we are going through is reaching me closer to that. I want Him. I want to need Jesus in all situations. Not when life gets hard. Prune me. Teach me. Guide me.
When money seems so distant and bills are at my fingertips, I am reminded once again to drop to my knees. Today, as I kneeled on my knees in the passenger’s front seat of our RV, in a Wal-Mart parking lot (josh was spending our last few dollars on toilet enzymes) God showed up as usual. I prayed for an attitude change. I prayed for strength in depending on Him alone. I don’t always know how to have the perfect attitude when we get ourselves in complicated situations. As I prayed, a homeless man walked by our window. I saw him and my heart started to break for him. How did he get there? What did his spiral of events that face down look like? I continue praying for me and my heart stumbled upon this question….”Ok Jesus what do you want from me? I know what I want from you”. I felt inside of me to go put on some shoes and warmer clothes (it was early morning and chilly) and walk outside and sit beside the homeless man that pierced my heart. I’ve been feeling these tugs lately and they have led me into some amazing situations just by being beside people who need to talk. The conversation mysteriously always ends with Jesus. Amazing.
In my mind getting out of the RV was the last thing I wanted to do especially when it came to talking to someone who had such desperation on his face and here I was in an RV that didn’t cost us a penny. What would I say? How do you describe Gods love to someone whose heart may be so far off from that notion? Why do I question God so much? He speaks when we cant; I needed to trust that. So I grabbed some granola bars and off I went.
His name was Pat, he knew all about Jesus, even quoted scripture. Was sober, not a criminal, just unemployed. This is the second homeless man I have met in a week that was completely sober and trying to survive. I’m used to San Francisco homeless people where most are far from sober trying to manipulate people in all ways possible. So Pat and I sat and talked for a while, he had a story to tell. He noticed the lack of heart in the churches around him. He believed that many people have taken scripture out of context to manipulate and justify what they want. He believed in sticking to the scripture and believed that it is what it is. He believed in Jesus as his “Lord, Shepard and Savior”. He believed in a God that he felt was different from most churches he had been too. He noticed the faults. There is truth to what he is saying; I can’t deny that.
I tried to encourage him that we are the church and that if he fixed his eyes on the scripture alone and put his faith in a continuous relationship with Jesus…. He will show up and He will provide. He needed to believe though. All the criticism of the church was keeping him from his own faith. Amazing how the churches imperfections can become a distraction that separates us from God as well.
Pat's tent a few nights previous was put to fire with him in it. He believes it was some gang members who struck it. He was in a place where he was once again starting from scratch. He had a sign and a few clothes. So what was his only shelter is now gone. Pat was angry at God for not providing for him. He was confused. My heart hurt physically at this point.
He told me that churches believe that they are helping the homeless by feeding them. He said that what they need is shelter and a job. Someone to believe in them. He believed a church is to be a place that is always safe and never closes…,.not a business. He saw the business in most churches. I see it too. What happened to that church that welcomed anyone and did life beside people especially the ones lacking, the needy? Do we love our neighbors no matter their story? No matter how busy we are?
This brings me to the story of a man in Africa who was raised in the streets, deserted by his parents at age 9, found his way into multiple gangs and decided through a crazy experience to believe in Jesus. He was minutes away from blowing up an entire tent of Christians when he opened himself up and saw the heart of Jesus. He could not read, knew nothing about scripture but he created a blind faith for Jesus. The very next day just by claiming Jesus' love out loud, he drew a dozen people to know the heart of Jesus…our God. He still had no shelter but God eventually showed up. He provided him a roof over his head by a white missionary who decided to move to Africa and begin a disciple ministry. He snatched Steven, gave him a garage to sleep in, taught him to read, speak English, write and today Steven speaks 8 languages. He has traveled the world multiple times sharing his testimony and saved so many. The only reason he is who he is today, is because of one man who decided to do life beside him for a season. And one thing led to the next. Steven gave it his all. The crazy thing is the missionary who took him in had no money but was still willing to give and God always showed up. They would be down to their last piece of food, bar of soap and somehow, at the last minute, they were provided with what they needed. That kind of faith is something we as Americans are not usually familiar with. Here I am getting a glimpse…a spec of that and already I have grown and learned so much. It has not been easy but I know it affects me and its darn right difficult to keep a good attitude. The only thing that lifts me up is when we have what can feel like nothing to me but so much to another…and I give. I want to do life beside people. People need consistency, they need community and when that happens, God shows up in full throttle. So pray about this. We are connecting with so many that have nothing, so much less than us and we want to walk beside them the best we can. I pray God allows it because although we have no money this month, next month is different. God has given us jobs that are building and consistent. We want to give our money away and for now, have just enough to get by. We feel that this is what God wants from us in this season.
So from negative bank accounts, tons of overdraft fees…. To gas in our engine and food in our bellies... We are good. God is providing. The Jesus in a few of my most favorite people have completely allowed us to continue our journey. I am forever grateful. All we have has gone into our mobile home and things are getting more organized around here. Our computer is set up as of yesterday. This entire time we would have been able to work and keep up with the cyber world if our lap top had not gotten stolen. So funny how God provides us with a job, over the computer on our own time, generous pay and the very next week, the Enemy attacks and takes away our tool for making it happen. Funny how that seems to work. Our lap top and cameras are so vital for our new journey and like a snipper…a thief in the night swoops it all away. We surprisingly had great attitudes about it. Off to San Diego we went and picked up Josh's computer that was stored away and a few weeks later we are rolling! God is good through it all….so much joy, so much adventure, so much need for attitude adjustments, so much failure, so much dependence, so much fun and so much mystery. We are loved through it all. Thank you Jesus.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I want to start by saying that many times when you are doing Gods will the enemy will atack. There is a fine line between that and God closing a door.
As some of you know, we had a laptop and camera stolen just before Christmas. Now that is a much bigger deal than just the fact that those things are gone. Our primary source of income and communication was with those items. Also, there was a lot of priceless pictures and other memories on that computer.
However, God has totally provided for us in the midst of what seems impossible. First of all, we now have a home. An RV we like to call J Grace. That's because it was an undeserved gift from God through the genorosity of others. Also, we have recieved the things we need to get by...and we have to lean on the Lord the whole way.
I can't spend too long on this blog because my phone is low on battery life and I just figured out how to post via text.
I just wanted to let everyone know that even...especially in the midst of opposition, we are so very encouraged that the Lord is working in our lives for His purpose in amazing ways.
We will keep you posted on more of the many details as soon as we can. Please keep us in your prayers. With God NOTHING is impossible.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The enemy is trying to discourage us in a big way right now...but God is in control. Please keep us in your prayers.
Gotta run, more of that stuff to do.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Behind us is what brings us to our present and ahead of us should be Gods light reflecting off of us. It is Gods light that reflects in front of me leading the way. How wondrous.
Starting with one of my reflections that is imprinted behind me, I can picture it perfectly. It feels like I can almost taste it...the weather, the time of day, Josh's face, his warmth. Its on the tip of my tongue, my nose too. It was a typical foggy San Francisco mid day. Josh and I sat gazing out into the east bay from the top of my school at the time. We were dreaming and talking, what we do best, and Josh mentioned sailing around the world. I said lets do it! At the time, I think Josh had intentions of surfing around the world and this was his motive. Leaping ahead, it was not long before the idea of an organization that involved blessing others came to be. We knew right then that it was something big and was not coming from ourselves.
While in school as a photography major, I was in the middle of writing a book about both sides of my families back rounds...one side is Catholic and the other Jewish. It was overwhelming to gather information about my grandparents and each of their experiences. They all had very intense upbringings. As I struggled to come up with a title for my book, me and Josh were in church one sunday and he looked over at me and whispered in my ear, Exposure Truth. He continued to explain to me the spelling and double meaning within it. Don't you love how church can do that to your soul? How you explode with inspiration almost every time. Yup, gotta love the Holy Spirit, a power that is not our own! The name, Exposure Truth was brilliant in my mind. My book was not only filled with words but also a collection of old and new photographs of my family history alongside photographs that represented my heart at the time. Exposure Truth stuck with us and we knew it was something that had more to it.
Marriage and Miss Joyful Journey Miller came next and not long after, Exposure Truth evolved into Exposure World, which you all know much about now. Amazing how things progress, huh? When a dream is created and carried through much doubt, and is still somehow progressing, you know it is not about you anymore and it completely lives in Gods hands. We have never been able to forget about this dream, we have only rested in it while wrestling with how it will come to be. Two babies later, God is moving and we are at His side. Although there is still so much mystery in how Exposure World is going to look, it is here, right now....moving and progressing. Doors are being opened. And the doors that close, we quickly move from.
The light has shifted and the reflection is now in front.
All we know for sure is that Gods light is to shine off of us and ahead of us. We pray we never lose sight of it. To keep within His reflection is our goal. In it we are learning to love Him more. Through simply loving Him, so much of what we wrestle with, will be turned to peace. God gives peace that is able to surpass all understanding. Its one among many of His biblical promises to us. We are learning to pray within His promises more and that has not only simplified our prayers but also revealed less detail in the "big picture"and any thoughts of controlling Exposure World have vanished. The truth is, we dont need to understand what Exposure World will look like in the future or how it will come to be. We just know that it is moving right now and that Gods hand is in it. We can not put a box around it. We have done this in the past and we were stagnate. We tried to tell God our plans...and in return, He showed us pieces to His. His Spirit moves in such beauty and mystery that people cant deny its God. This is what we strive for the most, the Holy Spirit to lead us. This is Gods plan and we are His vessels to make it happen. Where He moves, we are trying desperately to follow with hopes that people will see and experience God.
No box, no room for doubt or anxiety, no self-rightousness, no pride but rather, trust, faith, His righteousness and complete humility. We want to serve. Bottom line. We want to put all people above ourselves no matter how that may look. We desire our hearts to be parallel with Jesus'. We want our flesh to be put to death so we then have room for the Holy Spirit to take over our lives. We are exhausted from ignorantly quenching the Spirit. Where He tugs, we will do our best to follow. Our failures WILL NOT stop us from getting back on His track, they will only teach us on a deeper level that God is almighty and all knowing. These are things that are hard to wrap our minds around but we try anyways. Again, its a peace that surpasses all understanding that keeps us believing. We will never have God figured out or see His complete purpose....this only gets us in a place of trouble and complacency. We dont need to know the details of this great universe and how and why it functions....we just need to move and walk with God in all we do. We need to strive and seek for more of Him. Its when we are in constant conversation with Him that we truly start to see His heart and where we are to move. How we are to breathe. How we are to act.
We have learned that the fruit of the Spirit is never something we physically can receive. The more we try to muscle our way into receiving His fruit, the farther away we become. The more we surrender and accept the fact that we cant do it alone and that we need complete dependency on God, the more fruit we bear that is from Him. The branches that lead us to empty places are cut off. The branches that are good can become pruned (which suck sometimes) but lead us to great fruition and joy. This we believe. This is where our heart is. We try, We do...We pray, We hope....We give, We receive....We rejoice in His love for us. We want Gods fruit in us and we are doing our best to purify His temple...in us.