Homelessness is really REALLY not fun.

It’s a whole bunch of loss.

Homelessness is lost shoes, lost computer cords, misplaced kitchen bowls, ruined papers, and broken pieces all over the place.

For a moment I missed the regular life I’d known where I (thought I) knew what tomorrow would look like but…

The thing is that we often fool ourselves into thinking we know and have some kind of security or some kind of “familiar” because it feels good to think this but the truth is that nobody knows what tomorrow holds.

Even when we try to plan our days and months, it’s a façade and we spend energy where really we have very little control.

Following Jesus means me giving up control.

I had a moment a few weeks ago where I broke down and let go of all the tears that needed to be set free.

When I pack to move, I pack as efficiently as possible and mark the boxes so that people who may help carry boxes later when moving in can easily take them to the closest room. It only took several years of moving before I started doing this but it helps so much and I’m glad to have finally learned this moving tip.

When I was a little girl, my room was clean. I like it clean. I like things in the best places they go and to be organized.

For the past 3 months (2 years, rather, since we began praying for God to take control and show us His Plans for us) our world has been rocked and we’ve been led through tests (some we pass easily and some not so much) and loss of friendships, found out that support isn’t always in the places we’d think it would be, and that homelessness is REALLY not fun.

It feels like my life is upside down and yet we all have peace.

As a mom and wife I want to make my space “home” for my family but it’s hard to do that when our belongings are scattered for so long.

Today I’m asking for prayers. We have a few more boxes to go through to get moved into this 3rd RV. The rest of our things are in a tent beside us and the weather guys say it’s going to storm this weekend. (It’s been about 3 months since the trailer tires were in a ditch and a towing company pulled us out.)

The first RV was totaled by that towing company. (Let that sink in.)

Then we were homeless for a month.

A friend I met online , Kathy Thompson Ellis, wrote, “Looking at your situation from the outside, from the planning and work involved in just leaving and getting on the road to having faith that God is leading you to this ministry for the homeless, to you and your family becoming homeless… I am thinking Wow! and… almost Why didn’t you expect this? Jesus became human and experienced existing on this earth as a human before He could become the perfect savior. He said, leave it all to follow Me. My heart is breaking for you all but also rejoicing because if God is allowing this in your journey, He must have some incredible and wonderful mighty plans for you. Your current circumstance is no surprise to Him. It is part of His plan. He is holding you and will never let go. What an adventure! I don’t mean to sound condescending. In a way, I am almost envious because it is so obvious that God is doing a great work in you and through you. Keep on trusting. Keeping you in my prayers. He does His best work when we come to the end of our own strength and resources and have no one and nothing to rely on but Him.” (Check out Kathy’s blogs here and here .)

 

It was a comfort she said this and she’s right. Doesn’t it make sense that God would lead us this way so that we can be better equipped to help and love on people He’s leading us to serve?

When any good father gives his child a job he will provide what is needed to do the job (or help him find out how.) How much MORE will God equip us to do the jobs He’s planned for us when we ask for His help?

We stayed in hotels about 10 days with insurance money then I prayed, “God, if there’s a family we can stay with please let us know. Please provide?”

Of course I prayed this while standing safely in a hotel room and felt like a fool asking God to provide when He was CLEARLY ALREADY providing (including the first RV and truck to pull it.)

He protected us from a storm during those days that, if we’d been driving, could have blown us off the road.

That storm had knocked down trees and taken electricity from houses miles around for several days.

We had not even heard the storm because we were safely in a hotel room away from the danger.

And I was asking God to provide.

I can just imagine the way He was probably looking at me. “My sweet child… you’re so cute.”

I went on, “Thank You for providing. I do see that You’re providing. I’m just asking because we had stayed in many parking lots for free and then several times for less than $30 a night and now every night is about $130. So if there’s a family who needs a house sitter or has room for us please show us.” (Currently, He’s led us to a place for $16 a night and a neighbor who doesn’t want to talk about Jesus. That’s okay. God’s got us right where He wants us and saying nothing is an option sometimes. He still works through us even by just using our presence – and even sometimes, our absence – for Him.)

It was that moment God put it on my heart and reminded me that He is God and He does not need money to get things done. And that He’s leading us to people and the relationships are what it’s all about.

The next day was Sunday and we’ve prayed about where to go to church since way before we began this move from Texas to Alaska to open a homeless teen place.

He led us to a Chinese church.

There are a lot of things people say to each other at church.

“Want some gum?” “How’s life?” “Do you guys want to go to lunch?”

We’d shared a tiny bit with a few people about the towing company and the RV tires had been stuck in a ditch but had not shared at all what I’d prayed in the hotel.

A sweet Chinese man walked out of a sea of people and suddenly was right in front of my face. “Do you need a place to stay?”

(In my head I was like, “Yes, Jesus, thank You for answering. That was cool.”)

But out loud I said, “Yes, please. We do.”

We stayed with this wonderful family for 3 weeks.

[ Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ]

 

We’d been homeless for 2 weeks before we knew for certain that the RV camper trailer was a “total loss.” The auto repair shop was busy and finally looked at it with us.

The insurance woman said, “We’ll just write this off and you can go home.”

“We don’t have home. This was our home.”

“What now, God?”

We hadn’t had credit for about 12 years but before we left Texas a banker had gone through months of our bills and we had been pre-approved for a house loan in Alaska. We called several places and prayed for days and then called this banker again and said something like, “I’m not even sure if you guys give loans for RVs but we’re just asking, seeking, and knocking, and wanted to know if this is an option.”

He told us to call a woman and when she pulled our credit she said, “I’ve never seen someone approved so quickly!”

We went from zero credit to perfect credit in about 5 months. In today’s world and how credit works that’s a miracle.

(The first RV loan was from a dealership in Texas who gives loans on campers from their lot only so when this was written off we were without a loan and without a place to stay. While there were 5 months of truck payments, the first RV loan had never been turned into the credit place because their office had been flooded so it didn’t count as far as credit bureaus go.)

We moved into the 2nd RV for 2 weeks. The shower was never hooked up underneath and I felt like my stomach was inside out and that was another loss.

I prayed for 3 days. “God, please give me words. Please help me face this giant. They are a big company and I am just me. Please move this mountain.”

He did.

I talked again with the people who had sold us the 2nd trailer. They said they wanted to fix it but the more I’d prayed the more I knew it wasn’t something that can be fixed. It had to be replaced. Water damage is serious and there was no easy way to fix it.

They replaced the whole thing.

Another miracle. (We pray God helps us write the details down some time because God’s Hand has been in this in a billion different ways.)

We get that some choose homelessness for many different reasons I cannot even know, but many do not.

A sweet new friend and I were talking. She felt moved to donate to this mission and during our conversation (while we were homeless) she told me how she’s struggling with, “Homeless people should get a job.”

I smiled at her.

She knew that my husband’s job of almost 18 years is traveling with us because he works from home (wherever home may be at the moment.) She realized it’s not always so simple and the conversation was a good thing for both of us.

I like to be organized. Not only were pairs of shoes in different boxes but they were in different countries!

When we ask God to reveal His Plans for our lives He (I can pretty much guarantee it) will lead us through test after test and chisel away the parts of our lives that are offensive to Him.

It’s actually quite painful but somehow VERY worth it at the same time.

He leads us to places and situations we’re uncomfortable and HAVE to trust Him to provide (not just physically, either.)

Even though today we may face a storm and more loss if the tent does not hold, we would not go back to life as we knew it.

This is more adventure than I’d ever asked for (and more than I ever wanted, to be honest) but following Jesus and walking in faith with The Holy Spirit with us is adventure worth living.

Today I’m asking for prayers for me and also I guess for you and that God opens eyes and ears to His Plans for your life and even when He leads you through something uncomfortable (and He will) He is Enough.

 

 

 

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What Does it Mean to Walk by Faith? ~Guest Post by Dena Johnson

[This article first appeared on crosswalk.com here: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-walk-by-faith.html August 14, 2014. Guest Post by Dena Johnson.]
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For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Those words seem simple enough.

However, I am learning that fleshing out those words, that simple concept, can be a much tougher assignment. It requires tremendous courage and strength. You must be willing to be misunderstood and even abandoned. You must be willing to give up any semblance of control of your life that you thought you might have. You must be willing to look like a complete fool.

But, it is a journey of tremendous blessing and reward. It is a journey that is exciting, life-altering, and mind-boggling. It is a journey that will allow you to see and experience God as he was meant to be: in all his fullness and grace.

Walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience. Just look to Abraham as an example (Genesis 12:1).

Walking by faith means that you continue to cling to the dreams God has planted in your heart, even when you’ve been thrown away, taken to prison for crimes you didn’t commit. Just look at all Joseph endured (Genesis 37-50).

Walking by faith requires a strong determination to follow God’s plan regardless what life throws your way. Look to Daniel to discover how to have the resolve not to sin (Daniel 1:8).

Walking by faith means you have the courage to stand up for the hurting, broken, and down-trodden, to face death yourself for the good of others. Look at Esther and how she risked the death penalty to save the Jews (Esther).

You just may have to play the part of a fool. Think about Noah building an ark for a flood when it had never even rained on earth. Think about Abraham clinging to the promise that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the age of 100. Think about Moses standing before the Israelites in the wilderness telling them they would eat meat until it disgusted them but having no idea where that meat would come from. Think about Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho as God had told him to and wondering what good it was going to do.

If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.

Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures.

Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe, like me, your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or, maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.

I don’t know what your shake up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.

He will build a faith in you—faith that moves mountains and moves God’s hands. He will teach you to live this life with abandonment, giving you a freedom to walk in all his fullness and grace. He will prepare you to be used mightily in this life for his glory.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced your life being turned upside down, toppled without any control. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself wandering in the wilderness, watching his fire direct your every step by night, a cloud lead you by day. Perhaps you sense you are on the edge of the Promised Land, just waiting for him to give the command to take possession.

And yet, you are tired and weary. You’ve lost friends who don’t understand how you can continue to cling to a promise that is so obviously dead and gone. You are so close and yet feel so far away. You are struggling with temptations to just settle, even though you know it is less than God’s best. You simply don’t know how much longer you can stand.

You are not alone. I see God raising up a remnant of believers, those he knows will be obedient. He is looking for those with clean hands and a pure heart, those who will choose obedience even if it costs them everything this world has to offer. He is looking for those who will throw caution to the wind, believe that he has an abundant life (John 10:10) waiting if we will follow his ways. He is looking for those whose hearts have been purified, whose faith has been strengthened by the trials of this life (James 1:2). He is looking for those who will cling to his promises even when it seems there is no hope.

Be strong and courageous, my friends!

God has specifically chosen you to be a part of this remnant, those who will allow him to take their lives and mold them into what he wants. He has chosen you to have your faith tested and tried, and he promises that the fire will only purify you—not burn you. He has promised that he will be with you every single step, walking with you, carrying you, supporting you. He promises that he is still in control even when life seems to be spiraling wildly out of control.

He is teaching you to trust him so he can do something bigger and better than you ever dreamed possible (Ephesians 3:20-22). He is teaching you to let go and trust him with your heart, your soul, your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is teaching you to walk every single day in the spirit so that he can do even greater works in you and through you (John 14:12). He is preparing you to be a beacon of light and hope to a world which desperately needs to see Jesus.

I don’t know where you are on this journey of walking by faith, but I encourage you—beg you, plead with you—to wave the white flag of surrender. Let God take your life, your pain, your loss and use it for his glory. Ask him to do an amazing work in you so he can do an amazing work through you.

Get out of that boat and step onto the water…and never take your eyes off him. It is a decision you will never regret!

Thank you, Dena Johnson, for these incredible and powerful words.  Thank you for your permission to share this encouragement.  You know I needed it.  May this bless thousands of lives!

That Doesn’t Even Rhyme

Sometimes people say mean things and try to cut you down to their level.

You can say, “No thank you.”

You can say, “Get lost.”

You can say, “Hey, you’re really being mean.”

But I think maybe a better thing to say is, “That doesn’t even rhyme.”

 

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