Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cherished - January '12

I'm going to try not to cry while I write this one. When you pray for God to show His glory, it should come as no suprise when it actually happens. This past week, I felt like asking God to show me His glory in the visit this week. I felt weird about it though, and only did it once before today. Then this afternoon it came to mind again and I was suddenly SO excited about this visit. It was probably between 4:00-5:00. I started praying for God to go ahead of us in a huge way, to show His hand at work in a way that would be unmistakable and awesome. And He did.

Natalie Clemmons, a woman I've looked up to for years as a lover of Jesus, graciously agreed to come with me this week. It was her first time, and I'm excited to hear her perspective (I didn't have time to chat after we did the outreach) of the visit. I made "pie pops" (mini-pie-on-a-stick) for the bouncers and the gifts for the girls were fun headbands and clips that had rosettes and feathers on them. In the car before the visit, she asked what I wanted to express to the girls, what mission she should be trying to get across. I told her that I want them to know God loves them. I'm not trying to get them to leave their jobs or do anything. I think that the people there are all trying to get something out everyone else. The men want to feed their addiction and loneliness, and have to pay for it. The women want money and approval, and pay for it with their dignity and self-worth. Everything costs something. I want them to know God's love costs NOTHING. It just is.

When we walked in, something felt off. The guys were not sitting in their usual seats by the door. The regular bartender was there though, and he quickly explained that the manager, other bartender, and head bouncer had all quit the day before and were starting a new business together (not a strip club). He said the "D" the dj, was now acting manager and no one really knows what's going on. We chatted with him for a while about his other job, and I greeted and chatted with the waitress "S" as she walked by. She's very shy, but very sweet. I've run into her a couple of times at stores in town and she always smiles and says hi. I saw a guy sitting at a table eating, and the bartender told me he was the new bouncer, "C ". I decided not to approach him while he was eating, but as we walked by, he stopped us and asked if we were dancers and where we were going. When Natalie and I explained what we were doing, he asked if we were with Bruised Reed and Southland, because he had met those ladies while working in a club in Lexington. He quit for a while, working as an electrician, but is having trouble making ends meet, so he's back to bouncing clubs. He was very nice, and offered us some of the fruit he brought to eat. :-) We went into the dressing room, and I was disappointed to find it empty. We started to put the gifts on the counter when a new girl walked in. I didn't realize how long it's been since I explained what I was there to do until I got to say, "We just wanted you to know that God loves you, and we love you, and wanted to give you a gift." She started telling us about herself, she recently moved here and actually mentioned church. We asked if she had found one and then told her about Vineyard. She was SO excited. She said she had been looking up churches to visit and said more than once that it's so perfect we came tonight. She asked if we had drums at our church, because she can't go to a church that doesn't have drums. We told her the Vineyard is right up her alley! She told us that her boyfriend doesn't like her working there, but she makes good money. She said no one at her church knew/knows what she does, except for her dad. I told her she was welcome at our church, and she said "It's ok to have a stripper come?" and we told her definitely! I told her we wanted to see her grow in a relationship with Jesus. We gave her a card with the church service times on it, our names, my number and the church website. PLEASE pray that she and her boyfriend make it to church this Sunday.

After we finished talking to "N", we met "Sam". She is new as well, and mentioned that she got this job for the money, but she had wanted a factory job. I told her to check out Hitachi, and gave her the name of a good temp service as well, on a card with my email address on it. She has a little baby and enjoys having a job she makes money at so she can buy him things. She also told us that her baby's daddy died last year, but didn't go into any details. She has some family around her to be support, but please pray that she follows up on the info I gave her and looks into a new job.

We met a third new girl who was very friendly, and may have been on something. But as we left she shouted "Thank you so much!" across the dressing room.

I was able to poke my head in the office and say hello to "D" as we left. I said something about him being the boss, and he said "No way! Just until we figure out what we're doing!". Everything seems to be up in the air. Two girls that I love so much were in there with him being griped out for something, but they gave me hugs before I left. I did overhear "Sam" say how much she likes "D" being in charge because he's so much nicer than the previous manager, so it's good to know the girls are being treated better. After that we headed out the door.

It was so encouraging, so amazing. To hear "N" say over and over how perfect it was that we came tonight when she's been looking for a church, and be able to give job info to a girl who wanted a different job. Who knows what God's doing? Keep praying!

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Unexpected Blessing

For a while now, I've been wanting to give the girls who work at the club the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. If you haven't read this, please stop what you are doing and download it onto your kindle or nook, get it from the library, or head to the nearest bookstore. It is the greatest love story every written: the love story between you and God. Mrs. Rivers wrote this book based on the book of Hosea in the bible, in which God called Hosea to marry a prostitute. She continually left him and cheated on him, and he continued to love and bring back from her bondage. He did this to show His children that even though they were unfaithful, he still wanted them, chased after them, and loved them.

Back to my story.

Last Sunday I told a dear friend who prays for the Cherished minstry about wanting to do this as a gift some month. It will end up costing a bit more than we usually spend on the gifts, but I figured that I could round up a few people who would want to buy a book to donate. I knew she would be one of them, and found out she had never read Redeeming Love. I told her how great it is and that she should pick it up sometime. This Sunday she grabbed me and told me she was almost done reading it. She loves this book, and has been recommending it to her friends. Then she told me that she wanted to donate enough to buy almost all the books we'd need. She told me how much this book was affecting her, and that if just one girl actually read it all the way through and understood how much God loves her, it would be worth it.

I cried right there in the foyer.

God is so faithful. I was expecting to have to do a little more work to gather the money for the books, and in one fell swoop, through one person, God made it clear that He's got this. We're going to give them at the end of February, and I can't wait!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lists are a fabulous idea.

As there is little to no chance of me making all the random blog ideas in my head calm down and become a nicely packaged post, I will succumb to the beauty and ease of lists. I love lists.

Notes from Christmas 2011:

  • Every year I try to buy or listen to (thank you Spotify!) a new Christmas album. This year I probably spent the most time listening to This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 2. Contrary to many reviews I've read (mostly the two from Relevant), I do not really enjoy Rogue Wave. I did however, love the songs by G. Love. The Christmas Cookies song made me think of my parents, and I just like the swingy, hillbilly feel. I also listened to A Very She & Him Christmas and I didn't love it at first. It did grow on me though, and I was just past indifferent by the time Christmas rolled around. I love Zooey, but sometimes she's not quite my style. I tried to listen to TobyMac's new Christmas album, and decided that if I ever need to wind my 3 year old up any more than he already was around Christmas, that is the music to accomplish it. Needless to say, we did not revisit that one.
  • I was extremely spoiled this Christmas. My amazing husband suprised me with a guitar! I didn't ask for it, but had mentioned a couple of times that I need/want to learn to play. I really didn't even consider getting my own, I was trying to decide who I would borrow one from. TJ is the best at figuring out what I would love without me even realizing it. We were at my parents for the Wood family Christmas and when we were completely done, he brought it out with a bow on the case. I cried. And then "pling-pling-plinged" for the rest of the day, to everyone's delight.
  • We were in Ashland for Christmas Eve, and were able to go to TJ's grandparents church for their candlight Christmas Eve service. It was wonderful. I was a little in and out with Stella, who felt that the service needed some commentary, but it was great. I was in the foyer when they passed the "wine" part of communion, and one of the elders actually brought it to me. I was really touched. I also appreciated that in a full house, when Stella did make noise and jabber, I never got the feeling that anyone was annoyed or bothered by the interruption or bother. Only smiles from everyone who turned to see where the noise was coming from. Now granted, my baby is the cutest baby ever, but still. I only felt welcome at this church, and it was so nice to visit a different part of Christ's body and feel that unity and love.
  • I think my favorite was having our own little Christmas on Christmas morning. We had come home late Christmas Eve night, and then slept in. When we all woke up and had some coffee (milk for Siah) we sat on the couch and read the Christmas story out of Josiah's bible story book. Then we let him open his presents from us (my favorite was the set of wooden cars that can be put together in several different ways) and then we had pancakes and relaxed. Later we watched The Lion King together in my and TJ's room, which is special because the kids aren't generally allowed in our room, much less our bed. It was so fun snuggling up as a family. Josiah lost interest and played with a toy he brought with him, but I loved it. I was asked to stop saying all the lines with the movie, but other than that, it was great.
Notes from January 2012:
  • New Year's Eve was pretty fun - we had a Star Wars Fiesta. Which just means that we got a large amount of queso from Casa and then had a Star Wars marathon in the basement. TJ had spent the week between Christmas and New Year's working in the basement, rewiring electric and putting up insulation and walls in the "rec room" area of the basement. It looks great. He primed the wall that the projector projects on so that we had a good canvas to watch the movie on, and then we pulled the king-sized mattress that Joe and Kelsey were recently given in to the middle area and settle in to watch the epic battle between good and evil in a galaxy far, far away. We decided to watch them in production order, as the older ones are far superior. When Josiah was given a wooden sword (from a friend who visited a renaissance festival recently), he told me that he was a Jedi. :-) I love it.
  • Life at church just hasn't slowed down at all. We took over another store in the mall next us and turned it into a new, much larger children's church area. It turned out very nice. This Sunday we move into 3 services, and I'm on worship. I'm really excited about it, and super thankful to my biggest brother for being willing to help us with the kids while I'm serving and TJ serves with the ushers and design team this week. It's so nice being near family to help out with stuff like this.
  • I'm not one to make resolutions. I was talking over coffee with one of my favorite friends this week and did mention my ambition, goal, determination to curb my tongue. I've come to realize that I say "I need" a lot about things that I might not really need. It seems that in the same breath I'm grateful about something, I see and vocalize the next thing I need to make it better, go with it, etc. I really don't feel that I'm discontented, but I don't want to talk that way and teach my children that nothing is ever enough. It's fine, I think, to have a plan of things to do or maybe get in the future, but I want to make sure I am fully content and thankful for all the things God's given me, and that my kids learn to be happy with and grateful for everything they have. I also want to really be aware of and curb the way I talk about myself, i.e. my body image. I know that there are very few, if any women who are perfectly happy with their body/looks. And if I want to strive to be healthy and fit, that's great. But I really want to be aware of and stop the times I find myself comparing myself to others and becoming dissatisfied. I read a quote by (of all people!) Denise Richards, in which she said that she will not talk badly about her body in front of her daughters, because she doesn't want to teach them that theirs isn't good enough and they shouldn't be happy with themselves. And I feel exactly the same way. I want Stella to be content, not freaking out about whether she looks like the latest "it" girl. So I guess my resolution would be to be more content and thankful, and teaching my children to be the same way.
Well those are all the notes I can think of at the moment. I'd love to hear your goals or resolutions!