Hello again! It's been awhile!
Where I last left off, Jack and I were just moving into our new house. And after about 5 months of being here, we still absolutely LOVE it! Jack, our pup Mags, and I are so happy here. God provided us with a unique house, a big back yard, and a perfect location--everything we were looking for! In January of this year, I told Jack that I would love to be moved out of our apartment and into a house by Spring Break. We didn't really care if that meant renting or buying, but we knew we were ready to leave the college apartment life behind us. And guess when we moved into our house--which we were able to buy?! March 17, 2012--the Friday before Spring Break!! We feel EXTREMELY blessed to be able to be home-owners (doesn't that sound so grown up?). There is no way we would be here without the provision of our gracious Father. How amazing is it that He provided the very desires of our hearts--even down to the date I wanted to move out of our old home?! We are so humbled and so undeserving of the way he takes care of and provides for us. And we are forever grateful for His showers of blessings!
In other exciting news, Jack and I joined the staff of a nonprofit organization here called City of Hope Outreach (CoHO)! CoHO reaches out to the under-resourced in Conway. We definitely didn't see this step of faith coming, but it's a neat story of how we got here...
This spring, our awesome church, Second Baptist, hosted a simulcast of David Platt's 'Secret Church.' If you ever have the opportunity to attend or hear one of these sermons, you will not regret it--and your world will be ROCKED! (And while I insert this plug for David Platt, go ahead and read his book 'Radical'...and see your entire way of thinking be incredibly changed!)
So, after Secret Church, Jack and I were both convicted. Of a lot of things. But there was something that kept tugging at our hearts. It was a cool thing, because although we didn't talk about it right away, we were each convicted individually that God was wanting more from us. We didn't know what that looked like, so we started praying.
We threw around a lot of ideas, immediately began researching long-term mission trips, and we just kept praying. Our answer came FAST. One Monday shortly after all of this heart-checking and asking God where to go, Jack and one of his co-workers decided to do a prayer walk in a trailer park called Oakwood located on the same street as his office. At the end of his walk, he stumbled upon the Hope Institute Building, used by CoHO to reach out to the people in that neighboring trailer park. Funny how he had driven that street to and from work hundreds of times and hadn't even noticed this building. The next day, he saw some college students outside playing with some of the kids from Oakwood, and he immediately came home to get me. He picked me up, turned the car right back around, and we walked through a door that would change our lives tremendously!
Upon entering we met Phil Fletcher, who started CoHO several years ago, and within minutes of talking, we were filling out volunteer forms to get involved with this ministry.
It's so neat how the Lord led us to where we are now. A few months ago, I had someone ask me, "What made you want to get involved with serving those in poverty?" The question caught me off guard. The only answer I could come up with was the typical Sunday School one: "God." It's true, though. To be honest, I don't think I necessarily have a heart for the poor...I just have a heart for the lost. I really never pictured myself reaching out to lower classes, but I am so glad that God did! I'm so thankful he led Jack and I right where He wanted us. Through this whole experience, I've learned a lot about being completely open to and for God. In our many discussions about where we should be and what we should be doing, Jack and I honestly didn't see many mission opportunities for us here in Conway. Boy, were we wrong! We're surrounded by opportunities! And we are so thankful the Lord has shown us that through CoHO. We know that we are in Conway for a reason, and we are so excited that God is using that by letting us serve alongside those less fortunate than us.
So, this summer, Jack and I both volunteered with a CoHO initiative called Summer Oakwood Learning Academy. You can learn more about it, other initiatives, and ways to get involved with volunteering here. And starting this fall (on my birthday :)), we will be kicking off another initiative for the kids called King's Club, of which we have graciously been made co-directors! King's Club is also expanding into another trailer park for the first time! Not only will we be hanging out with kiddos from Oakwood, but also from Brookside! God is doing some VERY exciting things, and we are so blessed to be a part of His big plan--which is so much better than our own!
Here are some of my pictures from this summer with the sweet kids from Oakwood: