In the waiting.

At the end of this month, we will have been in ministry at His Mansion for 5 years.

Yesterday, we celebrated the graduation of four men and one woman from the program. Graduations are always joyous and festive, mixed with a little bit of mourning of seasons ending and people moving on that we have come to know and love. This is the 15th graduation we have been a part of. I am not sure how many people that is, but someday I think I’ll count — there are so many stories of the ways in which God has redeemed and restored. I am blessed to see what the Lord has done in those who have come through here. This past year especially, we’ve received quite a few wedding invitations, news of weddings, or “Save the Dates.” People are having babies. People are following the Lord and doing big things for Jesus.

Our evening yesterday though was quickly juxtaposed against this highly celebratory and joyous event. We ended up going out to dinner with some friends from our church who have actually just started to serve with us at His Mansion as well. About halfway through dinner, Jason realized that a young man working back behind the counter was someone that we knew. He caught his attention and waved and attempted to ask him how he was. “How are you?”

The young man diverted and seemed to wave him off. We weren’t sure whether to take the hint or press in. We finished our dinner and started to pack up Jude and clean up the big mess he left under his seat. The young man met us as we left and I felt my heart drop at seeing him. He wasn’t well and it was obvious in the way he held his body, his eyes, his sunken in cheeks. He stood a little too close to us as we spoke. It was all small talk, but it didn’t seem like he was capable of much more and we didn’t push.

We left the restaurant, almost stunned. It was a harsh reality check after the day’s events.

It’s slightly ironic because I stood with Jason, on Monday, at a part of the road on the property that looks down into the gardens while we were out on a walk with Jude. I asked him why are we here. It wasn’t meant to be negative, but since becoming a parent, I have found myself struggling with what my purpose is within the His Mansion community. It was less of a question for him than it was for myself. He answered me, and in typical Jason fashion, he turned it back around on me. “Britney, why are you here?”

The young man working in the restaurant is a stark reminder of all the reasons why that I haven’t figured out yet that still stir me up. Not to mention all the questions I have for God about why people respond to life in so many different ways. Why are there lives that seem to have found wholeness in Christ? And why are others still so broken even after meeting Him? This young man is a reminder of the battle of life versus death that is the often forgotten undercurrent of so much that happens here on this property. Though I no longer work in Resident Care here, I still remember that feeling of when the weight of others’ choices felt so incredibly heavy.

As I sit writing this, I was reminded of this passage:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:20-25

Lord – We need You here. We wait for You.

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Jude is here!

Jude was born on Wednesday August 13, 2014 at 12:54pm.

Jude Day 1

Labor and delivery was nuts. I know people have a variety of opinions and such about birth, but honestly, I don’t think I would trade the experience I had for anything. My care team worked with me and we tried everything possible to avoid having a c-section, but it didn’t work out that way. We went into the hospital on Sunday, my 42nd week of pregnancy, and began the process of being induced. I spent all of Monday and part of Tuesday in labor with no medication. I was growing a bit weary by Tuesday afternoon and asked for an epidural, thinking I had progressed enough for it not to stall things out completely. But after being checked on Tuesday evening and then Wednesday morning and still only being 7cm, we were running out of options. And trust me, we tried everything to get labor to progress over the course of those three days. I did everything from laying down with my belly in plastic inner tubes. I spent a lot of time on a birth ball. I walked. I sat completely upright with my hospital bed folded up into a chair.

At some point though, I started running a fever over Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, as we attempted again to get things moving, I asked Jason to pray with me again, knowing that we would need to make a decision about a c-section soon. Around 11, I decided it was time. I think I let myself cry for about 15 minutes and feel what I needed to feel, a mixture of feeling like a failure or that others may judge me for the decisions I had made thus far. And honestly, that’s all I needed was that 15 minutes. When they turned the Pitocin off, it was like my whole body had stopped being involved in the process.

The c-section prep and procedure were completely uneventful. Everyone in the room was incredibly nice to me and encouraging. Everyone in the room knew this was the last thing I had wanted. At the end of it all though, Jude was born. That’s what matters. I hadn’t really thought much about what I would feel as soon as he was born. Jason was sitting by my head in the OR holding my hand when he was born and we both just burst into tears as soon as we heard in him cry. I still cry when I look at him sometimes.

After he was born, I was able to see him really quickly before they went to look at him and make sure he was okay. Because I had run a fever, there was a concern that I may have passed an infection along to him. Jason went to be with him while I was being sewn back up. Despite the medication and such that I had for the surgery, Jude was very alert when he was born. I was able to hold him on my chest when we were wheeled back to our room. From there, the nurse I had helped me to try to begin nursing before Jason went with him to get bathed.

Fast forward to home… Jude is such a good baby. He cries when he needs to eat or be changed, but otherwise he is super content. In the morning and early evening, he usually has a long span of time where is awake and alert and so we “play” – doing about a minute of tummy time and laying under the play gym. We make faces and talk to him. I had my fair share of moments of fear about being a mom, and I know that it will be even more challenging as time goes on, but I am so in love with my little boy. It’s like nothing I have ever felt before.

Recovery is going well. The first few days were surprisingly not bad, but I think I pushed it too much and spent most of yesterday in bed, other than feeding the baby and taking a shower. Jason’s mom is here until next week, which has been a huge help. I’m not really able to lift anything other than the baby and leaning over still hurts some. It will get better though. Tomorrow we venture out for a doctor’s appointment, which will be the first time I have been out of the house since we brought the baby home. We have received a lot of help from others too, which we are really grateful for. We have had meals brought to our home and others that have sent texts or made phone calls to check in… thank you so much for loving our family!

What goes around…

Since last weekend, we have been fighting off the cold bug in our house. I usually bounce back quickly from these things, but I am so worn out. I’ve already started to get the “mommy rhythm” and am waking up between 4am and 5am most mornings, even when not sick. Despite the week, we have been productive. Tuesday evening we went to do the hospital tour. That by itself has helped me to feel a lot more confident. For me, knowing what to expect and the kind of environment I’ll be in is huge and helps me to plan. The administrator that led the tour was really great and down-to-earth, which helps too. We have been really fortunate with the health care we have received during this pregnancy. I have nothing but great things to say. The staff at the doctor’s office I go to has been such a blessing.

Today I had an appointment and made it to that, but for the most part, I have just slept. I have felt completely depleted from this cold. I helped out with a few things around here, but mostly have tried to keep my germy self away from others. Unfortunately, Jason handed this bug off to someone else on the hill, but that’s life in community! One of us gets it and it’s like half of this place falls ill.

Anyway though, this evening Jason is participating in a fundraiser dinner for the school he is planning to attend, The Trivium Institute for Leader Development. We have created a YouCaring account  in order to raise support for tuition and keeping it separate from what we raise to support us as missionaries. You can read more there about our intentions in this on the YouCaring site, as well as more about Trivium. Please pray for us in this. The timing might seem a little weird with having a new baby and all, but we both are at peace and feel that it is right for our family to begin this process. Should the funds not come for it, we’ll have to regroup, but we are hopeful that the Lord has led us to this school at this time for a reason.

Also, this past week, His Mansion mailed out there June newsletter. Some of you may or may not be on that mailing list. If you would like to receive the ministry’s newsletter, please let us know and we can make it available to you. Otherwise, you can read it online by clicking on the picture:

photo of mansion nl june 2014

 

Over the next few weeks, if you could pray for us and the Hill that would be great. Our summer season is very busy. We recently welcomed 7 new practicum students who will serve with us until August. They are college students who are coming to learn with us this summer about living and serving in community. We also have our Healing in the Context of Community Course that will begin this weekend. In addition to our own staff that are needing to take the course, as well as our practicum students, we will have additional guests that are attending that are looking to learn more about our model of care in order to invest in their own communities or churches. They participate in a couple of exercises, some of which our residents participate in during their time here, that require vulnerability and guidance from the Holy Spirit. It can be a challenging but also life-giving process for those who participate. Our HCC participants also have the opportunity to hear the stories and testimonies of our staff and residents throughout the week just in doing life with us while they are are here.

Work Groups – which Jason oversees the management of – will begin soon as well. These are a lot like short-term missions trip opportunties. The help we receive from groups enables us to continue helping others. It also provides time for groups to bond over serving and living together in our community in the week that they are here. We have a wide variety of groups working with us over the next few months from all over the country.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

June 2014 Newsletter

Hi Friends and Family!

We have put together a newsletter for June 2014… sort of modified after that first blog post to catch people up… since, well… I don’t think we have actually written a newsletter this year!

Anyway! If you have requested a newsletter in the past or support us currently or have in the past, you will be receiving a hard copy in the mail. Included with the newsletter will be a return card. We would like to know best how to keep in touch with you! If snail mail ain’t your thang, our e-mails are included in the newsletter and we can begin sending you our newsletter via e-mail.

If you would like to be on our mailing list, let us know!

And without further hold ups… click the link below to catch up with us! We’d love to hear what you think!

Our June 2014 Newsletter!

Here we are…

Since this is our first REAL post, I thought I would share a little bit about us and what we do and a little bit about our ministry vision.

For the past four years, Jason and I have served with His Mansion Ministries in Deering, New Hampshire. His Mansion is a year-long residential recovery program for those seeking help with life-controlling, harmful, habitual behaviors. People often ask who we help specifically, as the previous term can encompass a lot of different things. The truth is, we help a lot of people, from a lot of different backgrounds, that have a lot of stuff getting in the way of them having a relationship with the Lord. Our general population here is usually recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction. A great majority of our residents have experienced some sort of past trauma, specifically some kind of repetitive abuse that occurred during their childhood and the effects and consequences have stretched and affected their ability to live whole lives.

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Initially, we committed to a year serving as mentors or short term staff. The mentors live and work with the residents for a year at a time. They are the front lines of our ministry and without them, we would be greatly lacking. Mentors are usually in their early 20’s, single, and fresh out of college – so we were a bit of an anomaly when we arrived. The schedule is (and was for us) tough, but we stuck it out despite the difficulties. We didn’t live in the dorms, but we spent the majority of our time with the residents and other staff. It stretched us physically and spiritually and the hectic schedule (one night off per week and every other weekend off) stretched our marriage.

In May of 2011, I was approached about taking the Women’s Program Administrator position. This would allow us to be able to sign on for more time, which we both desperately wanted. Later on in the year, Jason began serving as an assistant for the men’s side of the program. For exactly three years, I served as the Women’s PA – basically overseeing the mentor teams and resident care outside of counseling. I am getting some time now to prepare for the arrival of our first child, who we hope will be here in late July. Last fall, Jason transitioned to a new position in the ministry, serving as the Resource Development Manager. He coordinates short-term mission trip opportunities to our ministry for small groups, as well as managing the ministry’s newsletter and social media. He recently has begun to take on some speaking opportunities to share about His Mansion, which is a joy for me to see, as this is something he really enjoys and has a gifting in. In January 2015, after we have both have had some time to adjust to being new parents, I am planning to rejoin our Care Team staff in part time capacity as the Intake Coordinator, which will involve interviewing resident applicants and keeping up communication with them prior to their arrival.

And that is the “catch up” part…

As for the future, we are unsure of what our time at His Mansion looks like. We are committed to the vision of the ministry and working with those that are broken and in need of the Gospel. That fuels our desire to be here. I can be honest and say though that there has been plenty of discouragement to pray through along the way.  We often feel disconnected from our “home base” in Florida due to the distance, which I think every missionary experiences. Raising support is a constant battle, and to be honest, I am surprised we lasted past two years because of it. The past year has been better on that end, but donations are often unpredictable and what could be a “good” month is often followed by a really poor month. But the Lord has always provided for us. I am grateful for His consistency in the middle of all my doubts and worry about finances. I want to be able to say that all the sacrifice is worth it so that others may come to know the Lord – I pray that He would continue to cultivate my heart towards that.

We are in the process of planning and praying for what life looks like in the next five years. We do not feel a release from His Mansion, but we have been praying about some other opportunities that have come up in the past year or so and how we may be a part of them in the future – specifically pastoral ministry. We are slowly raising some support outside of what we need to continue serving with His Mansion in order for Jason to attend school, which is a part of this preparation for the future.

Anyway, if you think about it, please pray for us. Here are a few specific things that are personal to us and also to the ministry:

  1. Pray for us as parents. Jude is due at the end of July.
  2. Pray for provision. We both struggle with trust in this area.
  3. Pray for our staff. Serving here can be hard and sometimes discouraging. Pray for trust to grow in the Lord and with one another.
  4. Pray for our residents. Pray that they would meet the Lord. Pray that they would seek Him for true restoration and not a sobriety “band aid.”
  5. Pray for our staffing needs. We have a few positions that need to be filled, as well as some ways in which we want to expand on our staff. We are in need of an Operations Director, mentors, and a female counselor.

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