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6.21.2016

When Community Comes Around

Back in early May, as Danny and I discussed some house decisions coming up, I expressed to him that I had only one hurdle in mind: I wasn't sure how, in our current financial state, we could afford some of the options set before us. Not exactly a small hurdle. We discussed options for saving enough money. The conversation was left a bit unresolved as we just weren't sure how to move forward.

The next morning, Danny got a phone call from one of his managers. She was wanting to let him know that there was a company wide call that afternoon with information about a job opportunity. It would be a short term commitment with a large monetary payout. We figured it wouldn't hurt to get more information so we sat in on the call. The job was filling in for Union workers on the East Coast who were striking at the time. The time commitment was going to be two months and the income would be 2-3x the amount Danny would make in a normal month. And not so coincidentally, the income would be enough to cover the house expenses we had discussed the night prior.

As Danny listened in, his eyes got wider and his face sort of lit up with anticipation. He didn't have to say it but I knew for sure he wanted to go. My heart raced as I began to think over what it would look like to have my husband gone for two months straight.

After the call, we prayed a quick prayer together, asking God to guide us and give us wisdom. Later that night, we went to our small group. We gathered with our friends, gave them the low down, and asked for their input and prayers. Without hesitation, friends were excited and encouraging. They told us, "This will be crazy but it will be so good for you guys." In the same conversation, many of our friends committed to helping me while Danny was away IF we chose to pursue this job opportunity.

The next day, Danny applied for the job! A couple days went by before we heard that he was selected to go. That was on a Friday morning. Early the following Wednesday, Danny flew out to Virginia for a week of training. After he completed training, he worked in New York for two weeks. The strike ended sooner than everyone thought it would so he came home after three weeks. And yeah, I was SUPER grateful for that. He didn't make as much money as we anticipated he would. But it was still an amazing amount that is going to be so helpful for future expenses we have to make.


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While I was supportive of Danny going and excited for him to make a decent income in a short time, thus helping us move forward in the house projects, I also felt so anxious about how in the world I would survive without him around. I'm a pretty independent woman. I tend to lean towards doing all the things myself. But I knew this adventure could absolutely break me if I went about it with that kind of mindset. Even in that, I still didn't want to admit how anxious I felt to anyone!! I trusted God to provide for our needs but I failed to walk that out by trusting the people around me to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

The Tuesday before Danny left, our dear friend, Kyle, asked me, "Shelia, what can we do for you while Danny's gone?"

And you know what? I replied, "I don't know, guys.... there's so much. But I just don't know..." I totally knew. I just didn't want to be a burden of any kind.

Thankfully, I have a bold, caring husband because he spoke up and said, "I need you guys to show up for Shelia before she asks because the reality is that she won't ask for help as often as she's going to need it." I wasn't exactly pleased to be called out like that. But it was so necessary! I love that man. As that first week went on, I had friends contact me telling me where they would help. I started writing people's names down along with what they committed for help. That list grew and grew to over twenty friends and family members who wanted to share the load with our family.


Every day that Danny was gone, someone was at our house and/or contacting me to check up on us. Friends committed to watching our girls each week so I could still attend counseling, do grocery shopping, and get a few moments to myself. A few people brought meals and coffee just because! Other friends did my dishes and folded laundry. Some guys from our small group cleaned the gutters and the moss off our roof one day. Our neighbor mowed our lawn a few times! And of course, there were even more people than that who I knew were praying for us during that time.


The whole experience isn't anything I'll sign up for again soon. It was harder than hard, as one might expect!! But it was incredibly humbling to see so many people come around and serve us without question. At the end of the three weeks, I cried to my counselor, overwhelmed by the sacrifice so many people made for me and my family. This is all new in my relationships... the willingness to let people in to the more vulnerable places of my life, to let people care for me when I can't do it all, and to let it all happen without feeling as if I have to make it up to them.

We're a few weeks out from that experience and my heart is still stirring. The relationships I have with those who stepped in continue to deepen. People continue to show up in the day to day. And what I see as a result from that vulnerable place of accepting help from others is a community of people that I trust so much more than I did a couple months ago. In that trust, I've felt safe enough to have hard conversations and express hurts. I have felt safe to ask for help in the small things of normal life. I have felt compelled to love others like I've been loved. This is raw relationship, being formed right before me. After just going through a sermon series called A Gospel Centered Community, this kind of experience reminds me of how God is working and shifting hearts. I'm so grateful for it.

6.14.2016

I Confess My Indifference

Sometimes when my heart is hurting and I'm struggling to make sense of my thoughts, I talk to my five year old daughter. It might seem counterproductive. But it never is. Amelia brings a simple logic to situations that I over complicate in my adultness.

We had one of those conversations last night and it went like this:

Me: "Hey bug, I had a question for you. If you saw someone that was different than you, maybe they looked different or acted differently than you... what would you do?"

Amelia: "Hmmm... I would probably say they look great or something like that."

Me: "What if someone was sick or hurting or...?"

Amelia: "Or without a home!? Well, I would call a doctor if they were sick. Or I would let them live with us if they didn't have a home. We could just build some more rooms or something!"

Me: "Wow! Those are great ideas! But what if they were far away from us?"

Amelia: "Oh, well... I don't know, Mama."

Me: "What if we prayed for them?"

Amelia: "Oh yeah!!! We could pray for God to help them!!"

Me: "Well, there's something we can pray about tonight if you want. There's a place in our country called Orlando, Florida. There was an angry man who hurt a group of people that were different than him. So now their friends and family feel really sad. And there's even more people all over the world that are sad as well."

Amelia: "Mama! Can I please pray for those people?"

Me: "Go for it, kiddo."

She bowed her head, clasped her hands together, shut her eyes, and prayed the sweetest prayer.

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I confess my past indifference to tragedy in the world. It's not that I don't care. In my deepest heart of hearts, there's aching. But in a world where my one voice feels so small, I have never felt compelled to say much about the events that surround us, now or in the past. But the reality is that in my quietness, I have been as ineffective as the loudest voices among us.

After this week though, I just can't keep quiet. This isn't only my world. This is my kid's world, too. And while I get to filter so much of what they know now, I won't be able to forever. These are the years where I get to do the majority of the molding and shaping of their lives. I aim to do this by pointing them to the truth that Jesus is their shelter and Jesus is their example. He will sustain them and He will guide them.

The last thing I want is for my girls to be indifferent adults. I would never want them to shy away from hard circumstance or hide from pain because of their own insecurities. I want them to be confident women, compelled to love well at all times and to speak out against injustice in our world because of the freedom they have found in following Jesus.

"There is tension in tolerance, but the amazing news is that our Father thrives in human tension. That is where He does His most unexpected work. He brings lightness to heavy burdens, and the Holy Spirit brings wisdom whenever we ask for it. At the foot of the cross, we are wild and free women. We can be passionate and tolerant; we can be truth tellers while being loving and patient like Jesus is. We can walk with Jesus and watch how He loves." 

So I pray boldly for them and I realize the need for me to show them what this kind of life looks like lived out, even now when they are so little.

To the world I have felt little concern for in the past, I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

My five year old daughter has a heart for you that I aspire to have. She's the wildest, most free soul I know. I definitely plan to chat with her some more. I have a few things to learn from her.