Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cherished Thanksgiving Outreach

I can't get over what a great night we had last night with our Thanksgiving outreach for Cherished. Every month, I go in there thinking that this is going to be the night that is kind of discouraging. And I buck myself, "It's been a long time since people were standoffish, you're overdue for a less-than-encouraging visit, so don't worry about it". And every month, God surprises me. But this month especially.

This month was the first time we've ever served a meal at the club, and I had talked it up during our October visit. Then the week before, I took a sign to put on the dressing room mirror, letting the dancers know that we would be serving a Thanksgiving meal, and they were welcome to come even if they weren't working. And though we brought a lot of food, I anticipated not having many more to feed than those that happened to be there when we showed up. Some wonderful women from the local Baptist church partnered with us this month (and probably will continue to!), taking care of half of the full Thanksgiving meal that we took. They were a huge help and I'm excited to see this ministry become bigger than one church, and just be about christians loving people.

I took my mom with me for this visit, and I wondered how the staff and dancers would react to her. She's the first person to do a visit with me that is over the age of 25, and I've heard from other ministries like ours that the dancers really respond to older women, partly for the maternal feel and because there is no immediate "competition" factor. It went great. The men didn't seem to know what to do with her, and kept their eyes on her like she was going to burn the place down, :-) but overall it was great. Soon after we got there, while we were bringing in the food, we overheard a girl I didn't recognize ask where the dressing room was, and realized it was her first night. When we took the small gifts we had brought back to the dressing room, I got into conversation with a few girls I knew, and met another while the new girl, "A", absolutely latched onto Mom. "A" opened up about how she came to be there, shared about her personal life, and how she didn't really want to be there, but didn't know where else to get a job that could support her and her children. She and Mom had a great conversation and Mom gave her her phone number. Please pray that she calls Mom soon, and nothing keeps her from it. She really seems to need friends, community, and wants a different job.

After talking for about 20 minutes, we all headed back to front of the club where the food was set up, and "D" (the dj) approached me with a pen and paper in his hand. I was apprehensive when he started quizzing me about whether or not we were representatives of a church, or ourselves, what the church's name was, who the head pastor was, his number, etc. He was writing everything down, and I was convinced that we had somehow crossed a line and offended someone and they were going to google the church and investigate further. :-) But then he started saying how much it meant to have us come and do this, and that he knew there were a lot of people from our church involved, and he wanted to thank the pastor of a church that produced people like that. It led to a great conversation about God and church, and I got to invite him to church and am excited to talk to him about it in the future. It's so sad how many people out there are walking around with hurts from churches and people who might have meant well, but did more damage than they knew. Please pray that "D" comes to church, or just gives Papa a call.

I can't explain how much I love these people. Thank you for your prayers. I can't wait to get back there for Christmas!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My hormones feel totally out of control. And I come from a woman who believes you shouldn't ever use hormones as an excuse for bad behavior, but thank goodness I have a sister going into the nursing program to tell me I'm not crazy - just pregnant. :-) Just this morning, for example, I felt the urge to cuss out my phone when the rubber case caught on my hair and pulled one out. Both today and yesterday I felt alternating urges to cry or scream out of frustration when things didn't go my way, or when Siah misbehaved. Because he is 2. Which he cannot help. By 8:15 last night I was pouting and wanted to go hide in my room. It's pitiful.
Another example of the super-fun hormonal surges I've been experiencing has come in listening to the radio. I'm one of those christian radio snobs who doesn't like to listen to K-LOVE because it's too soft and sappy. Do we really need to listen to "I Can Only Imagine" or "Butterfly Kisses" one more time? Hasn't that train left forever? But lately even listening to some of the songs on Air1 has me tearing up. I'm starting to cry in my car listening to the "There Goes A Hero" song, sobbing to myself, "Jesus really is a hero." Then I'm laughing at myself. Don't get me wrong, I kind of like this. I don't want the salvation story to get stagnant, and I kind of like having a lot of emotion about it, because sometimes it's hard not to take it lightly when you've grown up in church. I just hope after this baby comes that I chill out a little bit. Because I'm feeling like a whack job right now.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Suzanne's Reasons for Continuing My Blog
#3 - "My Ministry"

The "my ministry" bit is a direct quote from Suzanne, but I'm kind of hesitant to call it mine. I've been putting off writing this post about Cherished just because I want to make sure I express myself well - particularly because I have no idea who all reads this and I want to be sensitive (which I'm not always the best at!) But to give you a little background, last December a girlfriend and I were talking about the Christmas outreach the Vineyard was about to do, and causes we were passionate about, and I told her about a woman in L.A. who had started a ministry to women who worked in strip clubs. The woman who started it had been a dancer, and wanted to find a way to let other dancers know that they were loved unconditionally by God. So she started going to clubs with little gifts and notes that just read, "you are loved". I read an article about her, and her group (called Treasures) in a magazine years ago, but it always stuck with me. I told my friend I'd love to do something like that, and she asked why we didn't. So we did.

After getting permission from the management and great support from our church, my friend Amanda and I started going to the local club once a month with small gifts and notes of love. We just wanted to go in and tell the girls they're loved. No strings attached. And for a long time, especially when we met someone new, the first thing she asked was, "What did I do to get this?" I know we kind of weirded some of the girls out for a while, but they seem to have accepted that we're just "those church girls" that come in once a month and bring a gift and talk for a while. It's been great to get to know some of the girls, and the staff as well. We've also taken baked goodies for the guys (the dj, doorman and bartender) from the beginning. We're not trying to shove church or God in their faces, but to just show them love the way we think Jesus would and did when he was on earth, and still does through his people. The goal of this ministry is not to change anyone, because only God can do that. We just want them to know that we, and He, love them. And if they want to talk to us about church or God, that's a bonus.

I'm not sure what I used to think about strip clubs and the people who worked there. Mostly I just didn't. It was a place that just didn't exist in my world. But I can't explain how much I love the girls I've met and see when we go to the club for our visits. I very quickly came to understand that they're people just like anyone else, and are no more or less sinful and lost than me. The only difference is that I came to a point where I was done trying to live my life the way I wanted, and decided to give up and surrender to Jesus - because he seems to love me and even like me a lot. And I know I don't even understand a small piece of his love. But if he could know the worst parts of me that I've kept hidden, and still want to come to where I am and be in a relationship with me, I want that. I need that.

Anyway, we're really excited because this coming month for our visit, because we're going to be serving a Thanksgiving meal to any of the staff at the club who come in. I really can't wait, and the girls I talked to at the club last month were really excited about it, so I hope it's something we continue to do. It's been so fun to have some of them open up more and more as we continue to visit them. At our last visit the DJ told me about his girlfriend, and pulled out his phone to show me her picture, and when I told the girls that I was pregnant, they were so excited. Everyone is always very grateful and excited to see what we've brought and I think they know that we really love them. And that's what we care about.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I now invite you to join me in part two of our series,

Suzanne's Reasons For Continuing My Blog
#2 - Josiah

So today was NOT a fun Josiah day. Actually, it started out great. In fact, overall I've had an amazing day. There was some great news regarding the Cherished ministry (which I will divulge in SRFCMB Part 3: My Ministry), I had to go take my new ride to get the horn fixed - because road rage requires more than a verbal beatdown of stupid drivers - and they gave me the CUTEST Volvo coupe to drive until it's fixed. I hope it takes a long time. I might start finding things wrong with my car so I can drive all the cool cars they have on their lot. THEN, I went to go get my hair cut and colored, and found out at the end of it that someone had anonymously paid for it ahead of time!!! I totally cried as soon as I got back to the hottie car. Plus, I love getting my hair done because it's more fun Stephanie time. I went back to my parents' to hang out for a little bit, and Josiah was super-cute with his drumming, which Grandpa immediately put on facebook.

But then.
It was time for Josiah's checkup. Just a checkup, but I knew he was going to have to get some shots. Now, I made a key mistake going into this appointment. Maybe two. 1) I allowed them to schedule our appointment smack dab in the middle of naptime, thinking we could get through it no problem. Rookie mistake. 2) I underestimated the memory of a 2-year-old. Josiah was great when we got to the clinic, he flirted with the receptionists, watched all the kids in the waiting room, and even followed one little girl around the lobby for a little bit. Adorable. He even did ok in the exam room, until the nurse came in and started trying to mess with him. I'm convinced he remembered getting shots from a nurse, because he didn't want her anywhere NEAR him. He cried through every minor check she had to do, the worst being when he had to lay down to be measured (36 inches). I could not figure out what the problem was, and kept trying not to keep telling the nurse he was overdue for a nap, sounding like a mom desperate to not be misunderstood for having a difficult child. :-) I do not have a difficult child. But I'm sure they all say that. The one thing I can say is that I really like our doctor, and she is super-quick with the eye and ear checks. And the nurse was very understanding, and tried to do what she could to make Siah more comfortable, which was nothing. We ended up getting the flu vaccine, which we did with the nasal spray. I actually did that so he took it a little easier, but then we had the shot, and our first finger prick. Very sad. He kept screaming, "OW-WEE" and I felt so bad for him. Especially since after the finger prick we had to force what seemed like a liter of blood into this little tube. It took forever. But we lived, and God provided a book about trains, which made the extra five minutes we had to spend in the waiting room at the end go by quickly, and tearlessly.

Now Siah is taking a nap, and I am happily relaxing with the computer and some Nickelcreek.

And I did not vote.
I think I will not go to hell, and the country will be ok until I do next time.