Sunday, February 26, 2012

Turning Page

When I was 17 I went to live at the Walter Hoving Home because I was using heroin everyday and couldn't stop by myself. There were times that I was homeless and stayed on other addicts couches, I sold my things, my family's things, and my soul for drugs and money. I was one of the "bad ones".
I did not know Christ when I went to the Home even though it was a Christian place. All the other girls were Christians. I was just there to "use" them. I was going to get clean, sober, and get my life together and then go back and kick life's ass. There was no way I was going to be converted to Christianity. To me, the whole thing seemed like a cult anyway.
At this Home I was given meals, a bed, and a safe, warm, and beautiful place to stay. I was given forgiveness because I was unrefined, rude, and had a bad attitude. I was shown Love because... well, because I was there. I was shown Love and forgiveness over and over again everyday for months. I was still skeptical. I avoided conversations about the Lord or I joined in only to try to prove someone wrong about God being anything other than a judge.
One afternoon after several months of being there I met the Lord. I fell in love with Him so hard that I can't even put it into words. The Walter Hoving Home is on a mountain top in beautiful upstate NY and that mountain belonged to me and Christ. If you have followed the Twilight movie series, me and the Lord's love rival Edward and Bella. There is actually a song in the Breaking Dawn soundtrack that I listen to over and over again because it reminds me of when I first fell in love with Him. (Here are the lyrics by the way because they are too awesome to not share.)

I've waited a hundred years.
But I'd wait a million more for you.
Nothing prepared me for the privilege of being yours.
If I had only felt the warmth within your touch.
If I had only seen how you smile when you blush.
Or how you curl your lip when you concentrate enough.
I would have known what I was living for.
What I've been living for
Your love is my turning page
Only the sweetest words remain
Every kiss is a cursive line
Every touch is a redefining phrase
I surrender who I've been for who you are
Nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart
If I had only felt how it feels to be yours
I would have known what I've been living for all along
What I've been living for

When I hear this song I remember my mountain top. I remember the people who gave of themselves so that I could one day meet Christ. Some of them were seasoned Christians and some knew the Lord for only a few months. They are the women who gave, and in return I am a mother who loves Christ and I am raising my children to love Christ. All because they loved and served me.

Since then I have tried to take part in ministry here and there. Some of it was forced and some of it was very natural and organic. I have been waiting for the day when I would get to love someone the way I was loved. I have been waiting for the nudge, permission, and privilege to be salt and light to the world.
Last year I went through a detox and I needed some help. I didn't need normal ministry, but I needed Christ's hand to help me and my family. My church served us meals and helped me watch my kids when I felt really sick. Sometimes all I needed was the silent strength I felt as I knew someone was praying for me, fasting for me , and beholding the Lord on my behalf. That month my church was a "drug addict" ministry just to put a name on it. But we didn't really call it anything.
Right now Chris and I are entering into a time of looking out. But what if I'm not ready? I'm not, but I don't need to be. There's no being ready when it comes to giving a thirsty person a glass of water. Christ is always equipped to give Christ. I will periodically give updates as Christ changes us through this season.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


This is the next post in a series of posts beautifully written by my dear friend and Sister in Christ.


Love you guys,


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

just say yes

When our organic church was being left on it's own for the first time, one of the Brothers who had planted us said these words, "Lean towards yes". We were being given practical instruction in how to handle meetings and situations. If an idea came up, unless there was a good reason to oppose it, just say yes. It seemed pretty obvious and simple.

Now, in the beginning I would have said that I leaned toward yes often. If someone had a great idea, why oppose it? Lean towards yes. Sometimes it was really hard and other times, especially when I liked an idea, it was no sweat. In the last year those words have come to shape my thoughts and my actions and the way I live in community with others. I have grown to see that my first reaction in every circumstance was to watch out for my feelings and my well being. I had held every idea, action, and statement up to the light of my will and my agenda and measured it based on what was best for me. The Lord revealed to me that I had become a lean towards no person. And there was bitterness attached to that, but more importantly Christ was no where in sight.

When the Lord revealed this to me I wanted to lay down my right to have any kind of opinion about anyone else's lifestyle, journey, or ideas. To live by the life of Christ was to say yes, my Brother or yes, my Sister, you may have your way. Whether I believe it's what's right or not, I will fall back and allow you to shine. That doesn't mean that I now all of the sudden agree with everyone else. Believe me, I don't. Inside I can rationalize anything... "But Lord, what if I *know* someone is being manipulative, or sneaky? What if that person over there is being controlling or leading the church in the wrong way?" Yes, even then, let them have the right of way.

Sometimes saying "yes, you can have your way" means letting others make mistakes and making the mistakes with them. But I know enough to know that Christ knows all, and I would rather be surrendering and losing than pushing my own will. The One I am really saying yes to is Christ and the only way I can say yes to something I don't like, is through Christ. For years I was the type of person that couldn't let anything go. I was hard on others and really hard on myself. Before moving to Gainesville, Florida and meeting with the organic church here I never had friendships that lasted very long because a soon as there was a conflict, I was gone. Sometimes I had very justified reasons, righteous anger. It really bothered me when I saw hypocritical behavior, for example. In order to justify satisfying the flesh, I could talk myself into all the reasons why it was good to call out bad behavior. But, Christ got to the very heart of this when He spoke of first removing the log in our own eye before telling others about the splinter in theirs. In the last year and a half, the Lord has been filling and replacing the old man. The Christ inside isn't concerned with other folk's sin or issues. As a result, I lean towards yes to my Brothers and Sisters, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Yes, they have permission to make mistakes, to not be a perfect person, and I will not judge or hold them accountable.

On the flip side, I have lived in close communal life with my Brothers and Sisters long enough that they have seen the "real" Jackie. The Saints I live with have looked past selfishness and immaturity as I seek to live by Divine life. I have melted down quite gloriously at times, but all my fellow Brethren saw was the Christ in me as they "leaned towards yes."

This life comes down to a choice... am I willing to lose? Am I willing to die and let my plans go undone so that Christ can have His way, whatever that may look like? When living by Christ's life, He is always going to choose the way of grace. But what if someone is really doing something wrong, and leaning towards yes isn't what's best? It does happen, but it is extremely rare and I have yet to have it happen in my life. Usually the Spirit handles problems like that and human confrontation isn't necessary.

I began the blog with some wisdom that was shared when the Brothers who planted our church left over a year ago. Well, they are back for a visit this week and I would like to end with some additional wisdom from one in particular. "Love is not sentimental. It was costly." I think that sums it up. Living a lean towards yes lifestyle is sacrificial. It requires doing things I don't want to do. It costs the death of my desires and my agenda. It is humbling. It is beyond anything I could ever do in my own power and it takes Christ to do it.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful week!



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another one...

Here's the next post in the series, written by my Brother Mark. He is a great Christian and a great writer. Enjoy!

Click here

Monday, January 16, 2012

forgotten art

The other day I realized just how much the Lord has taken care of me throughout the years. Not only did He keep me safe during my hay day, but He has given me the deepest desires of my heart and I get to live them out daily. I don't believe it's because I've done anything right, but because having so much to be grateful for bring Him the glory.
For a few years now I have wished and daydreamed about being good at something. Really good, like an expert. I mull over catalogs and research what it would take to become a master herbalist, holistic practitioner, or live out my dream as a counselor and open a home for girls. I have always felt like I was in some sort of waiting period while I raised my kids. Once they were grown, I could get to my real life. Along the way here and there I was encouraged by others telling me that being a mom is the most important job in the world *rolls eyes*, but it was too politically correct to even stomach. And besides, I know a lot of mothers who are also working or living out other dreams, while still being "mom." They are mom, but they also have something they are good at.
Christ within has been settling me big time lately and I am slowing down to become more aware of the present state of being. In recognizing Him and beholding Him, He has shown me something to be thankful for. I want to share why and how and make it very clear that it's by no strength of my own. Without Him being the Life to me and my family, I fail big.
Christ has given me the gift of homemaking. This is the revelation He's shared with me and I want to pass it along. Developing the best and right lifestyle for our family is important. Just like with everything else, no two homemaker's jobs are the same. I'll use mostly myself as the example.
When I moved out of my parent's home and into my husband's home I was starting from scratch. I knew how to clean my home well(thanks mom!), but everything else I did was pretty generic. I didn't have my own style yet as a wife or a mom. Over the years I have been drawn to read and seek out knowledge on how to keep my family safe in our toxic world. Not germs, germs can be good for us, but actual toxins. They are everywhere, specifically in our health products and food. I used to make boxed dinners and freezer dinners. I used to cook with toxic ingredients(and think they were healthy), but since have completely changed the way we eat. I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen. At least an hour per night just preparing dinner, not including cooking time. I used to give the kids sugar, sugar, and more sugar for breakfast and lunch, but have started making those from scratch as well. Over the years I have developed a system of collecting our recipes for the month, keeping track in a special planner, gathering the organic groceries from stores all over town, and making the time for preparing it all. You may not think that making food for my kids and hubby is an art, but when held up to what it used to look like, I can see that it is, and that the Lord has given meaning to it.
The Lord has been developing in me a desire to protect life on the planet. That passion has led to finding out about ways to live in harmony with the world, to tread lightly, and leave small footprints. A big part of our lives and how we do daily activities comes from this responsibility to the planet. My kids will see that taking the extra steps to hang dry clothes and compost our trash as a normal part of life. It's what works for us and I feel good about it.
Homeschooling, a biggie. This is an area of my "job" that the Lord has graciously given me a ton of passion for. We have discovered that Miss Charlotte Mason's methods work best and we make it our own. I love to write unit studies(small ones and year-long curriculum) and I love to pull existing pieces of studies together to make new ones. I love this part of my life and thank the Lord for that. It is Him who has called me to raise and teach my kids in His ways and He has provided the desire which makes it enjoyable. I love that we can saturate our day with Christ and it doesn't look like cookie cutter Christianity. It has been a process coming into my own as a homeschooling mom. As long as I remain open to teaching myself, the process will continue. I will always grow and mature in this area if I remain humble and continue on for the right reasons. I thank the Lord that He has developed the personal style perfect for our family's homeschooling and we can build upon that.
Another area of my fantastic job that I want to write about is my housekeeping. Boy, has this changed over the years. I have become a pro at multi-tasking, and sometimes I don't think that's a good thing. Most of the time it's helpful to have a lot going on, dishwasher running, whites in the washing machine, hanging clothes to dry on the line upstairs. Check. But other times I need to remember that I am keeping house so we can stay safe and healthy, NOT so we can have a spotlessly clean home. I could get carried away and clean all day long if I had the time. My whole attitude is changing though and I am learning to relax long enough to sit with and enjoy Chris and the kids. I don't want to miss time with them because I was cleaning. I have my daily chores that I fit into my schedule, but rcently I have turned my weekly chores into monthly tasks. It has helped my mindset so much and my house really isn't a whole lot messier! My husband blessed me with a gym membership in order to help me deal with stress and depression, but it only works if I go almost everyday. I have had to give up some things in my day to make room for that and cleaning was the first thing to go. My family doesn't mind me taking that time for my physical and mental health because they are reaping the benefits as well.
That leads to my final point. In all of my homemaking, what's become the most important part of my job is the atmosphere I help create. I have been entrusted with four beautiful hearts. These people love me so much that if I am not happy, neither are they. If I am having a bad day and have a rotten mood, they pick up on it. I take that very seriously. I once read that a mother's voice can instantly lower her child's anxiety level and blood pressure. When I began paying attention to how I spoke to my family, I was shocked. There was a time when I was taking my son to a class and realized I had scolded him(loudly) and nagged him the whole way there. I created anxiety in him and then sent him off into the world. I felt like a horrible person and was shown the ugliness of living in my own strength, again. I want to be the place for my kids and husband to come and receive love and nurturing. I want to build them up with my words and fill them with Christ's love. This is very much the most important part of my job. The art of homemaking is narrowed down to the atmosphere I am creating. More than anything I do, making sure my boys feel safe and secure with me is key.
So for now, I am a homemaker. There may not be degrees handed out, but I feel secure in that the Lord is making me an expert in caring for my family. Most importantly, I have complete faith in Christ, that He is my value. So even if my job remains a homemaker for the rest of my life, I am fulfilled.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog series

This begins a series of posts by some of my Brothers and Sisters in the church I live with, here in Gainesville.

Follow this link to read the first post...

Love you guys.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

welfare as permanet income?

So the presidential election is just around the corner. My husband asked me this morning if we had friends that we really trusted and looked up to. When I asked why, he told me that he really doesn't feel like researching the potential candidates and just wants to piggy back off some like minded friends. While we do have friends whose opinion I value, I told him I would begin the research.
This morning there was a post on facebook about Mitt Romney obviously funded by his opponent. I don't know much about his guy and if I voted today it would not be for him, but this commercial didn't make him look that bad. One of the main selling points in not voting for him was that he made money shutting down companies, liquidating them, and firing the employees. I wonder if we looked at each company individually if we would find prosperous business and honest hard working men and women? Maybe, but highly unlikely. I wanted to post a rebuttle so bad, but knew the explosive tendencies of one of the supporters, and wanted no part no that. And so this blog came to be...
My husband has a few employees and I am used to him having to go in and cover their shifts because of their horrible, lazy work ethics. His employees are constantly trying of get out of doing work. Because of his experience with "hard-working Americans" I think might want to re-evaluate the term. Most people my age and younger are excuse giving Americans.
If a company was not doing well, I see no reason why liquidating it and making money doing it would be wrong. The hard working folks are free to get a job somewhere that is doing well and the lazy folk are the ones that will struggle and complain.
If hubby's branch was shut down, he could find another job. He would look until he found one. Fortunately he's turned the branch around from when he first got there and it is doing very well now. He has worked very,very hard and there were times he didn't know if he would make it. If he wasn't able to turn it around we would have expected to get demoted or shut down. And we wouldn't have complained or run to the welfare office.
It seems like welfare and food stamps used to be a temporary help for those going through a rough time. It was in place for single mother's, widows, those who got too sick to work, and to hold families over until they could find a job. Instead it has become common for whole neighborhoods to be on welfare because they can't get a job. It's weird because I could walk down to Denny's right now and get a waitressing job in a pinch. And I have a questionable past. Chris and I once went through a financial hardship and I got a job in the evenings to supplement our income. We would have been eligible for welfare, but it just seemed like a very lazy choice.
I know there are a lot of struggling families out there that are using the government help for it's intended purpose... this blog has nothing to do with them. One of my children was on medicaid for the first few years of his life because even though I worked almost 40hours a week, I was in a tough spot and couldn't afford medical insurance.
I have a pretty solid view on the matter from a factual standpoint. I don't claim to be right, it's just how I feel. I know what the Lord has said about the lazy and know what He's said about helping the poor, and most importantly, I know the difference. But I don't feel good about mixing politics with religion any more than that.
Done my little opinionated post, thanks for reading!
p.s. vote for Ron Paul