Fall Newsletter

Fall 2018 Ministry Update

First and foremost we would like to thank each of you for your prayers and partnership in The Village. We could not do what we do without your help. It has been awhile since an update has come out, so we would like to highlight just what the Lord has been doing these past six months, what He has in store in the coming six months, and how you can join the movement.

Who We Are

We have encountered many questions about exactly what the ministry is. Because the name is Vanessa’s Village, many people think it is about Vanessa. This is not the case. Vanessa, our adopted special needs daughter, is the inspiration behind starting the ministry. We realized rather quickly that it takes a village to raise her, and as the universal Church, we strive to partner with others to bring the Kingdom of Heaven here. We are a Village that is raising up people to KNOW their Papa, KNOW their identity, and KNOW their call. We do this through hosting a prayer house, having outdoor community wide worship nights, one on one discipleship, leading international mission trips, and local speaking engagements. We feel called to share our story of learning to love Vanessa and press in for her freedom even when we cannot see it. We speak at local churches and retreats, as well as schools to inspire youth to pursue Jesus with all they have because He’s worth it. We are so excited for the ways that God has been bringing others into the Village.

Ministries

  1. Alabaster Prayer House- Come on out every SECOND and FOURTH Tuesday evening of the month from 6:30-8pm for a time of intimate worship with our Father. (330 North Main Street Souderton PA 18964).
  2. International Mission Trips- Vanessa’s Village is open to helping local youth groups coordinate and lead international and national mission trips. Our heart is to see the Nations know the love of Jesus. We also run our own trips with international connections we have.
  3. Discipleship- We offer one on one discipleship for anyone looking to dig into the heart of God.
  4. Counseling- We have connections to a wonderful, Spirit led, Christian counselor who works out of Harleysville PA. She comes highly recommended. If anyone needs a higher level of discipleship than we can provide, we advise you contact Lauren. She has been a God send for us as we have been able to receive Godly wisdom from her as well. (Lauren Bittner: 215-858-0066).
  5. Kingdom Builders- In the spring, summer, and fall, we host outdoor community wide worship nights on the third Saturday of the month, May through October. The events start at 6pm with snacks, worship, volleyball, and fellowship. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram at Kingdom Builders PA for more information and updates. (3327 West Ridge Pike Pottstown PA).

Ways to Partner

We are looking for people willing to join the heart of the ministry.

Current needs:

  1. Worship leaders for Alabaster Prayer House.
  2. People willing to disciple youth.
  3. Prayer warriors. Life in ministry can take a toll on a family, and we would love to have a strong team of people joining us in praying for Vanessa’s freedom, Sean and Marissa’s marriage, and the ministry as a whole. We value the power of prayer.
  4. Monthly donations/ one time gifts. The ministry is run by the generosity of those around us. Our costs are not high, but we are always looking for donations to cover what our family cannot. Partnering with Vanessa’s Village opens up doors of partnership into the lives of those in the extended Souderton area community. There are some specific areas you can donate towards. Donations can be made online at (www.vanessasvillage.com/donate) or checks may be made out to (Vanessa’s Village) and sent to (330 North Main Street Souderton PA 18964). Please do not feel you need to give. We want to highlight the needs, and first and foremost would love you to pray for those needs. If you feel led to give, we are grateful and know God will bless the funds, but if you are not in a place to give, that is totally fine.

Financial Needs

  • We are in need of people to donate to Kingdom Builders and the investment in youth in the area. We love to be able to create a place of worship within the community, but we know as winter comes, we will need some funds to clean up the worship area and get it ready for the events. We need donations for sound equipment and building supplies for the worship center.
  • You may always donate simply to Vanessa’s Village. As needs come up, we will make you aware, but our goal is to be able to have some extra donations set aside to help local families with the needs.

Contact Us

You may contact us at 215-353-1611, vanessasvillage@gmail.com, or http://www.vanessasvillage.com.

Thank you for your friendship!

-The Village

Sean speaking at Dock Mennonite Academy and Marissa speaking at a Woman’s Retreat

Alabaster Prayer House information and small group/ one on one discipleship

Guatemala Mission Trip- January 2018. Next trip is January 1-8, 2019. Email us for information.

Our family ❤

Thank you for all your support!

Blessings,

The Village

Prince of Peace

When peace like a river.

These words flowed through her mind, round and round as she sat, tears streaming and heart heavy with the reality before her. The soft kick in her womb brought the tears on stronger as she realized that in just a few weeks this baby would be here and they still had no plan, no help, and no funding. She battled her own thoughts as she fought with the goodness of God. If He is sovereign and faithful, why has she been running in this hamster wheel for over two years and still landing back in the same pile of filth that she started in? Her soul was waging war on her spirit as Truth spoke love and peace to her heart while her mind reasoned, looked at the track record, and struggled to simply breathe. “When peace like a river,” He whispered. “Peace like a river.” Her mind was drawn to her favorite place to sit with her Father and breathe. The babbling brook lay before her, dripping over the small pebbles, and gushing around the large rocks. Oh how her heart found peace in this place: the smell of the creek, the ducks floating by, the small fish dashing through the current, and the soft brushing of the leaves as the breeze brought a shiver to her skin by the cool bank of the water. “When peace like a river,” He whispered again. “You need not understand right now. You simply need to be.” “But what is the reason Papa? What are you doing? Where are you, and where is your provision?” she sobbed as her heart sank again, missing the tangible presence of her Beloved around her. “You need not know right now Child. Breathe Baby girl. When peace like a river. Allow peace to be. Allow me to be the Prince of Peace. You can never encounter me as the Prince of Peace if you are never in need of peace.”

When peace like a river.

“You can never encounter Me as the Prince of Peace if you are never in need of peace.” These words have been running through my mind since He spoke them. How true is that? We never truly know God as a healer until we need healing, nor a deliverer until we are in need of deliverance. He is God, but he is so deeply multifaceted that for all your days on earth, and all your days in Heaven, you will continually get to know a new perspective of His heart for you. I guess it didn’t register until the moment He whispered that phrase to me that I will never know Him as Peace that surpasses understanding unless I am in desperate need of that Peace. As sick as I am of running this rat race to get help from a broken mental health system, I have come to deeply appreciate getting to know my Father as one of peace, and getting to see how good my husband is at pursuing my heart and setting my needs before his on a daily basis. Just to give some background on what I mean by “getting help from a broke mental health system,” we have been trying to get in home help and funding for Vanessa for years now, but have been pursing it fervently since finding out I was pregnant, because Vanessa can have violent, erratic episodes that are unsafe for a newborn. We have been denied time and time again, and have been on an emergency funding list for over two years now. Month after month, and meeting after meeting escalates my hope only to watch it plummet as the denial form comes back in the mail. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted, and yet my God calls Himself a God of HOPE, PEACE, and REST. One day, one day we will see breakthrough. One day we will see funding. One day we will see Vanessa’s freedom from the bondage that is over her mind, and one day we will see why God has allowed the rollercoaster of mental health issues and episodes. He is faithful child, oh so faithful to you.

When peace like a river.

The fog lifted as the Prince of Peace entered her room. She had met him before, but not like this, and it fascinated her entire being to see Him for who He was. He flowed in, filling the room with overwhelming rest. Her body could hardly stay awake as her mind drifted into a place of peace while his arms wrapped around her. She fell into a deep sleep, her breathing aligned to the heartbeat of her Father.

When peace like a river.

Breathe Martha

There she scurries, up and down, back and forth through the kitchen. The sound of her breathing intensifies as dishes clang and glasses rattle in the wash bin. Her mind races as anger creeps into her bones. Oh how she hates the chores, the constant busyness, the racing around, and the never ending tasks. She loves being a wife and mother, as well as a host for her family’s events and parties, but some days she simply longs to return to her childhood years, when running through the fields as her father plants and plows was the only thing expected of her. The crashing of the mop bucket jolted her back to reality. ¨Come on!” she furiously mutters under her breath as water floods over the kitchen floor leaving streaks of dirty brown across the tiles, masking the hours of work she had already completed. Weariness overtakes her as tears pour down her cheeks, mimicking the mess across the ground in front of her and giving signal of the impending meltdown that was sure to follow. She sinks to the floor, tears mixing with dirty water and anger. ¨It must be perfect. It has to get done.¨ The guest of honor had just arrived, and she knew that soon enough stomachs would be grumbling. ¨Where is she?” She questioned to herself. ¨She promised she would help me. She wanted him to visit just as badly as I did. She could at least have the decency to help accomplish all it takes to welcome this man into our home,¨ she spat. Fatigue got the best of her as this was not the first time her sister had pulled this stunt. She rose quickly to her feet, wiped the tears from her eyes, stood straight again, and flung the kitchen door wide open. She would make sure her sister heard her this time! Her narrow eyes grazed the room and settled directly to the front. She could not believe what she beheld. There her sister was, lounging on the ground listening to this man speak. Lounging! Relaxing, with no regard for what just transpired in the kitchen. ¨How dare she!” she bitterly whispered through gritted teeth. Her gaze met that of the man at the place of honor. How quickly he must have seen the fury, for he met her glance with one of compassion, understanding, and love, as his eyes seemed to whisper, “breathe Martha, for this too shall pass.”

I don’t know how many times I have said, “but it has to get done,” through a mess of tears as stress overtakes me. The reality of being a mother to a child with special needs is exhausting. I cannot count how many appointments we go to monthly, or how many phone calls transpire weekly, and how much runs through my head daily. I found myself crying to my counselor the other week, “but I just want to be normal. I want to have a job and be able to help financially for my family. I want to do activities other than support my adopted girl. I want to be normal.” As my heart screamed these things, my mind was reminded of Mary and Martha’s encounter with Jesus. Oh how I felt for Martha. I understand her in far greater ways than I can express. She had a heart to serve, but she longed for others to come alongside her and help. Can you imagine welcoming the King of Heaven and earth into your home? I can’t, but if I could, I know I would want my house to be spotless, shinning, and I know I would want a hot meal on the table that was then cleaned up in a timely manner. Martha’s heart was not wrong, it just got carried away and bitter. After she saw her sister lounging at Jesus feet, she went to him and asked him to tell Mary to help her. Jesus replied that Martha was worried about far too much, but the one thing that was occupying Mary’s thoughts, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him, was the thing that mattered the most. At first I read this and felt Jesus was just insulting and dismissing Martha, but in reality, he was seeing her and saying she was right, just correcting how far she went with the thoughts. The chores needed to get done to create the ideal environment, but they were not the most important thing that day, and it was not a matter of what she was doing, it was a matter of what was occupying all of her thoughts. She was far too worried about something that in the scheme of life, mattered far less than getting to know her Savior. “Breathe Martha, for this too shall pass.”

There she was, over 2000 years later, still perfectly relating to that woman spoken of in the Bible. “I feel ya Martha,” she said as she closed the Bible. “I feel ya.” She was created to serve, this she knew, but many days she was exhausted. She spent her moments catering to what others asked of her, always willing to try rearranging her schedule to make it more convenient for the next. There was a lot on her plate, and that day it just seemed like a bit too much. “How do I do it Papa? How do I not get bitter at others but show them the way of service? How do I not crash and still find time for myself when so much must get done? How do I not break?” she whispered through the impending storm of tears that threatened to pour at any moment. “You sing little bird; you sing,” he breathed back. “But I don’t have time to sing! I don’t have energy,” she muttered in response. “Sing,” he breathed, “sing little one.” She sat at the piano playing the same progression over and over, longing for the song to flow as it did in times past, but the words could not come. “Breathe,” he whispered, “for this too shall pass. You worry about far too much. Rest in me.” The tears streamed as words finally poured from her mouth. She could feel the breakthrough, and no matter how small, she would take it. It starts small, oh so small, but worship was being restored, and breath was being replaced. Her heart stilled as she sank into the rhythms of the Father. “Breathe Martha, for this too shall pass.”

He’s so good child, so good. All the time God is good. To the parents who work, run ministries, disciple, lead Bible studies, have businesses, are busy with life, and are still fully devoted to their kids, God knows. It must all get done, but do not get swept into the wave of panic and fear of being overwhelmed, for when your mind is preoccupied with worry, it cannot hear the gentle voice of your Father. He is speaking in the stillness. I had a crazy revelation the other evening at a worship event my family and I run. I had scrambled all day trying to get things together for it, my mom was in the hospital at the same time (she is fine now, praise God), it was a close friends birthday and I wanted to spend time with her, my daughter was acting up, I hadn’t slept well the night before, and I barely had time to shower that day. By the time I got to the event and finished helping them set up, I was beyond exhausted. My feet could hardly hold the weight of my six and a half month pregnant figure as I slumped into a lawn chair, longing to sit and worship with those around me. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there was someone needing my help, so up I went to finish what needed to be done. Many events like this are life changing. People are radically encountered by the Father, but for the events I help run, I notice that I struggle to even connect with Him because of how much I have been running around to get the event to a place where others are not distracted and can meet Papa in that place. But, this night was different. I did not spend any alone time with my Father, but I had a wonderful conversation with a girl who reminded me how beautiful it is to trust God and give Him your all. I watched old friends and new friends worship their hearts out, and I got to snuggle the cutest baby so her mother could worship freely. In the stillness with that child, I felt the Lord whisper, “I gave so you could connect. I poured out so you could be poured into. I gave so you could have.” My heart understood in that moment how much of a privilege it is to create a space for others to encounter Him. Did my heart long to have time that I could stand and worship without my feet aching or something needing my attention, absolutely, but did my heart get to that place without having the “room” to do so? Yes. This night, my heart got to worship in a whole new way. I realized what Jesus was saying to Martha that evening as she poured out her stress on him. It wasn’t about the fact she was doing chores. It was about the fact that she was overcome with stress that her heart couldn’t worship him. I saw as I ran around doing my duties during the day, I was overcome by stress to the point I could hardly enjoy the thought of going to the actual event and contemplated dropping off the items I was bringing, setting up, and then going home to sleep. It was an honor to see how the Lord spoke to me about the ability to still do all we need to do, to ask for help when needed, and to work hard, yet still be worry free and stress free in our hearts. Breathe Martha, for this too shall pass. Live from a place of peace.

She could feel the stress creeping up from under the bed, mimicking the monster she dreaded as a young child. His claws would surely grab her little feet as they hung over the side of the bed, so she snatched them up in a panic and threw them under the safety of the comforter. It came in waves these days, mainly as dark overtook the sunlight. Fear would slither in out of nowhere, screaming at her to give him her full attention, and when she was exhausted from a long day, there was hardly any hope of getting him off her back. Fear’s voice was loud, but tonight, her Papa was speaking peace. In the stillness between sobs she could hear the violin play. The harps soon joined, blending fluidly with the ringing of the bells as the cellos bellowed their notes into the despair that overwhelmed her. She had heard these sounds during the days earlier that week, and after three separate encounters, she was starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, it was her Father speaking peace. Oh how easy it is to question all the good things he does for the ones he loves. The orchestra continued to direct her heart to be still as she listened, grasping for the volume to increase. It was not easy to tune into the stillness, but when she did, she was overcome with peace and rest. “Breathe Martha, for this too shall pass.” Oh how she loved her Papa. He most definitely knew her far better than any other. She loved the picture marriage gave her of His gracious heart for her. The sobs subsided as her husband held her and her Papa sang over. Oh how good He is that He would give great gifts to those who pursue Him. As she drifted to sleep His words rang in her ear, soothing her and speaking life to her dry bones. “Breathe Martha, for this too shall pass.”

Going Big Starts Small

¨Going big starts small. Going big starts small.¨ That phrase raced through her mind as she sat listening, longing for greater understanding. ¨What are you trying to say Papa? I know that a marathon starts with a single step. I know that a great oak tree starts as a little seed, but what else are you trying to say?¨ She lunges at thin air as the revelation races two steps in front of her. She can almost see it; a single leaf, falling from a nearby tree, whipping across the road following the current of traffic as it swooshes under one car and up over the next, dancing in the breeze, but fleeing from her grasping hands. ¨There is so much more to that phrase, but what?¨ Frustration fills her mind as she tries to clear the fog, longing to hear the voice she so desperately needs. ¨Papa, please. I want you to speak. I love when you speak. I long for more of your words, to go deeper and higher, and to know the height and width of your love.¨ Silence followed her plea. She could not understand why he kept doing this. It was almost as if he loved the hunt, the chase, the journey. He would plant a clue, wait for her to see it, then go silent again as she dug into the depth of meaning behind His words until He released another. She giggled to herself as the voice pierced the silence. ¨I love the journey,¨ he smirked back, ¨I love adventure.¨ ¨I am definitely made in his image,¨ she thought to herself, as she too loved the exploration that came with learning and was fascinated by the depths of understanding and mystery this world could bring. ¨So, let’s dig into this together,¨ he responded. ¨Going big starts small.¨

I remember sitting back many times, dreaming of the day I would worship lead and speak in front of hundreds, imagining the day when hearts would be changed because of His life in me. I longed to travel, country to country, people group to people group, nation to nation, all to see His glory known and His name revealed. I sat there crying out, ¨I’ll go anywhere. I’ll do anything.¨ ¨So go home,¨ He says, ¨go home and adopt your cousin with special needs, for my glory.¨ My reaction at first was full of joy, but in time it was a far cry from happy. It’s almost humorous now as I think through what my conversations turned to and how dumb I must have sounded to the King of kings. ¨I said anything, anywhere! I meant I would go to the ends of the earth and be martyred for your name. I meant any country, any adventure. Something big God! I did not mean go home and live the life of a full-time home maker and mother.¨ Going big starts small, oh so small.

¨Remember how I came into this world, Child? Remember how I was born?¨ My mind suddenly snapped to the city of Bethlehem. The air was stuffy, but a small breeze was making it tolerable. There she was, pregnant, exhausted, and terrified. It only took one glance to see the fear that surrounded her as the contractions came and went with such intensity, almost mocking her soft whimper for help. A place to stay was all they sought. Her spouse wandered the streets, frantically seeking a room, all while trying to comfort his beloved wife. The last door, the last knock, the last effort provided the only option they had been given all night. At this point it was too late to say no, for the Son of God would be entering this world shortly. Joseph scampered over to his wife, scooping her into his arms as he raced to the stable. She had no time to worry about how dirty it was, or how much the animals smelled, for pressure and motherly instinct overtook her body. He’s coming Joseph!¨ she screamed. ¨Breathe Child, for I am with you, even until the end of this age.¨ Her heart stilled as the voice of her Father broke through the chaos and she was able to draw a deep breath as the King of kings broke violently into this world. His cry pierced the night as Heaven and earth sang. Little did anyone in this quiet town know, but their Savior was just born, a baby, fully human but fully God, sent to restore them to a partnership with the Father. A baby. A tiny, crying baby. Going big starts small, oh so small.

¨The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.¨ I was reminded of this verse as I typed about our King entering this world violently. It’s rather interesting now as I think about it. I’m not sure why I chose the word violent, but it seemed fitting. As I prepare for labor in the next few months, all I hear are stories that definitely make it easy to fear what is to come, but as I sat writing this, I couldn’t help but imagine Mary and what she must have been experiencing in those moments. She pushed the Son of God into this world in a stable, totally uncomfortable and exhausted. Just the mere fact that God chose labor and delivery to be the way that His Son, the Savior of the world, would enter back into His creation, blew me out of the water. What a testimony to the violence that it took for Jesus to take back the Kingdom. Now, let’s get a better understanding of that term violence, because it may be a little confusing. Instead of the violent take it by force, let’s read it as the forceful, singleminded, passionate, all in- take it by force. God saw his creation rebelling, and as he longed to have them back in relationship with him, he still had a choice. He could sit back and wait on us, or he could come and step into our world and bring his kingdom by force. I am so grateful that our Papa chose to come into this world as a crying Baby and die for my sins so that I may live. Now, we have the privilege to continue advancing his kingdom and not giving up or backing down. It blew me away today to realize that he came into the world through the pain of labor as Mary fought, with force, to violently push him into the world, and I will have the privilege to labor and struggle as I bring life to my baby girl, who will be a warrior that will also help take the kingdom by force. My struggle to accept his call on my life, no matter what it is in the moment, is simply the pain that comes with contractions. As the Lord births something new in your life, it will bring pain and suffering, but suffer violence, and take it by force, for the kingdom is worth it. And Child, take heart, for going big starts small.

She sat, thinking, listening, and believing as the tears streamed down her cheeks. “I never went big. I never started big. I never thought too big that I missed your thoughts and your prayers.” The reality that her Father thought so highly of her, despite her flaws, took her breath away. He was truly stunning. “Never think too big that you miss the human I have placed in front of you. Their life is worth me dying for, and I am a violent force that is fighting for them,” her Papa whispered to her aching heart as she closed her eyes, allowing the stream of tears to break. “Will you be a violent force for the call I have given you? Will you be so passionate that when people see you, they see my violent entrance in this world? Will you be so singleminded that when others look at you, they see my forceful eruption from the grave?” Her mind was drawn to that simple day, a day his followers must have thought would be another day of mourning. She could see him, standing there, folding the linens that had just bound his body, slowly setting them to rest, and walking out the entrance of the tomb. The sun momentarily blinded him as he smiled, slowly looking around him as his feet hit the barren land. He had just conquered death, but he was in no rush, for you see, kingdom violence is on no timeline. There is no rush to the heartbeat of the Father. Jesus walked, step by step, heartbeat by heartbeat out of the grave. She could understand now why it was hard for the Jews to recognize that their Savior had come; they were expecting a “hero,” one who would ride in on a horse and take the kingdom with violence, but she now saw that the violence that is required to take forth the kingdom is the immeasurable violence that we call Love, a love that would walk humbly, do justice, love mercy, and lay down its life for those around it. It’s a love so incredible that a simple blink of your eye, and you can miss it. It is a love that walks out of the grave smiling but at ease, a love that three days prior had hung on a tree, dead for those who mocked it. It is a love like no other, and that, that she saw is what taking the kingdom by force truly is. The biggest act this world had ever encountered was done by a baby grown to a man, who gave his life for the ones he loved, who conquered death and lived sinless as God in human form, and yet many missed it because it didn’t look “big.” It simply kept no record of wrongs, was patient and kind, believed all, hoped all, endured all, and forgave all. It was the greatest act of all eternity, and yet it wasn’t seen by thousands and is still missed today by millions. Going big starts so small. “So, will you be a violent force for the call I have given you? Will you be so passionate that when people see you, they see my violent entrance in this world? Will you be so singleminded that when others look at you, they see my forceful eruption from the grave?” He repeated as she sat in awe. “Yes,” her heart whispered, “yes.”

Contemplating the Cost

She sat with the map staring her down, eyes full of wonder, and heart overflowing with anticipation. Where He would lead her next no one could have guessed, and in this moment, she embraced the unknown, longing to bask in His goodness and grace for just a moment longer. The idea that she could go anywhere and do anything made a giggle erupt from within, excitement bursting at the seams. The sounds of India surrounded her as she lay looking at the world before her. “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything. Whatever it costs, give me Jesus. I’ll go anywhere,” her heart cried. “Go home,” He graciously whispered in response. The excitement skidded to a halt with those two simple words. “Go home?” She questioned. “But I said anywhere. I said I would do anything! I’ll go to the ends of this world and lay my life down for you. I’ll go to the most remote villages and share your goodness with them. I’ll go anywhere Jesus, anywhere,” her heart desperately responded. “Then go home child,” He breathed, “go home.”

It still blows my mind that Jesus whispering, “go home,” to me was over two years ago now. Oh if I had only known what these last two years would hold. Would I have still been as quick to say, “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything?” Would my heart still have burst with excitement as I sat with the world before me? How I desire to savor those moments of the unknown more. So often I have rushed through them, longing to know what the next stepping stone is on this journey of life, waiting for it to unfold before me like the unveiling of a magical new land, but how I wish I had savored the unknown in those few fleeting moments. There is such a beautiful innocence that comes with being unsure of what your journey holds, of being so in tune with the heart of the Father that a simple whisper of his heart gives you tingles all over and makes you burst into tears because you know that He has already gone before you and prepared a path that will bring life abundant even when you cannot see it. Savor the unknown child; savor the simplicity of being led.

Her heart began to beat with renewed excitement as the plan fell into place before her. Go home, find an apartment, get a job, and adopt your 16 year old cousin who struggles with autism, intellectual disability, and mental illness. Totally simple. Ha! Joy should not have been present. That is how she knew this was a call of the Father, a call to go anywhere and do anything; a call to open up a door that had been labeled impossible by the world, and declare Jesus over it. Suddenly, “go home” sounded like the most exciting thing Jesus had ever asked her to do. The idea that she had no clue what she was doing, what she was getting herself into, and how much sacrifice it would truly take had not hit yet, and at 20 years old, her heart was fully dependent on her Father, bursting with joy at all he was doing and how He was providing. The apartment came, the job came, and donations came before she could ask for them. “What do you wish to do through this?” she asked, longing to reconnect with the heart of her Papa. “Freedom. For the sake of freedom I have set a path before you. Freedom,” He whispered in response. “Freedom,” she pensively repeated. “How fitting! Vanessa will gain freedom from her illness through this. Freedom. How beautiful! Freedom. Freedom,” her mind repeated as she drifted to sleep. Freedom. Little did she know, that freedom was for her first.

It’s very interesting trying to write through the beginning of the story all over again when we are over two years into it, and my heart screams a different tune many days. It is encouraging to remember why I stepped into the call, and it is rejuvenating to remember how clear the voice of the Father was in those days. But, to be honest with you, the weariness is overwhelming most days. The mundane walk is exhausting. Fighting for freedom when hope seems lost is discouraging, and longing to hear Jesus the way He used to speak so clearly is heart wrenching. I jumped head first into a journey with an insane amount of trust and faith in the impossible, but now, I realize that was truly not faith. I had expectations and hope, but not the deep faith I have come to learn through trial and circumstance. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Two years later, when we still do not see freedom, when daily we see Vanessa’s mind held captive by mental illness, that produces faith. We have faith in her freedom. We have conviction in the freedom that we do not currently see. We are assured that one day she will be free, and we have hope in that. The hope I dove in with two years ago was quickly lost, as the mental illness increased, psychotic episodes erupted, and my mind grew tired. But, as I type this, I realize how faith has taken the place of that hope. Faith in knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is freedom in Christ, no matter what we see and no matter what I feel. For the sake of freedom He has set her free. He HAS set her free, whether we see it today or not, she is free.

She sat in the waiting room of the hospital, tears streaming, heart crying, and deep seeded wailing longing to burst through the seams. She ran outside as she lost control and sat on the stoop sobbing until it seemed there were no tears left to cry. Her body was tired, her mind was weary, and her heart was heavy. What had gotten them here she could not conclude. It seemed like yesterday she was staring at the map laughing with joy as her Father guided her finger back to Pennsylvania and called her here to love the ONE in front of her, to give her life for the child he placed in front of her. Yet, a year later, she found herself sitting in a puddle of tears on the steps of the emergency room at the local hospital as Vanessa was being held because of safety precautions before being transferred to a psychiatric clinic nearby. She knew that the change in medication was to blame for the regression and psychotic episodes, yet her heart questioned what she had done wrong. Didn’t he say freedom? Didn’t he promise to be there through it all? So, where was he? Her heart screamed at him as tears poured. “How dare you promise freedom when you cannot follow through! How dare you turn your back when I have needed you most. You were here through all the easy times, through the joy and excitement, but when the going got tough, it seems as though you disappeared.” As her heart yelled, her mind tried to reason. “He doesn’t ever leave us or forsake us. He is always present and helps us in our time of need. He is here, even when I cannot see,” and yet her heart could not release the anger. Deep down it felt as though she had failed at the simple call he gave. “Go anywhere, and do anything. Go home. Love her well. Care for her. Give your life for her.” As the sky grew dim with the impending night, so did her zeal.

Can I get a show of hands for how many of us have been in that place? Maybe you are still in that place. Some days I’m back to joy overflowing at the call placed before me, the call I was sent into, and yet others I find myself yelling at the sky asking what is going on. No matter how deep down we know that he doesn’t leave us, there are moments in our lives that all we feel is abandoned and alone. Darkness pours in, and our eyes cloud over to the fact that He is right beside us, even if he is not speaking as loud as we have heard him before. Or, maybe you do not know him yet and have been walking this journey on your own for so long. You are weary child. It is okay to let go. Let the tears flow, and allow your Father to take the hurt from you. He sent Jesus because He loved you so much. Jesus died in your place that you may have life forever and a life full of joy now. It’s okay to rest. Many days I feel the best I can do is remember to breathe, and that’s enough. You are enough. I love the book of Song of Solomon because we find this beautiful conversation between the bride and Solomon, or us as the bride of Christ and Christ himself. The conversation bounces back and forth as a type of waltz, gliding across the fields, singing in the sunlight, and basking in all the goodness that comes with knowing the Father. Yet, in chapter two, he calls her to the mountains and the valleys. Fear creeps in, and she declines, longing to continue running in the beautiful fields with him, eating under the apple tree, and resting in his presence. Throughout the next chapter we find her longing for him and feeling as though she cannot find her love. She is desperate, crying, heart broken, and decides to rise and seek him out. She finds him and agrees to the mountains and valleys with him and suddenly in chapter four he is speaking volumes over her. The entire chapter is his thoughts for her. When I first read this I remember saying, “wow God! When we submit to you, follow you, and agree to do all you call us to you speak over us so much more.” His response blew my mind; “No child. I have always spoken that amount over you. You agreeing to do life with me no matter the ups and downs opens your ears to all I am saying. My words are never less for you. My presence never leaves you. There are seasons that I manifest myself to you tangibly and audibly, and there are seasons that I do not, but in those valleys you learn far more than you could on the mountain top. You need fire and passion, but fire without wisdom and control becomes a raging wildfire that hurts and burns things it should not very quickly. Those valleys produce wisdom and depth.

It’s been a year since she cried her eyes out in front of the hospital, and yet her heart still suffers on occasion with the heaviness of the reality she walks. The nitty gritty details of life cause her to stumble daily, and the burden of raising a mentally ill young adult takes everything she has most days. By the time the sun sets, it’s all she can do to remember to shower most nights. Yet, the Lord has been so faithful in providing the most amazing husband she could have ever dreamed of, a man who would walk this journey beside her, lifting her eyes when they fall short of the glory of her Papa. Jesus has been faithful in blessing them with a wonderful daughter who will show her beautiful face to the world this fall, and each kick in her womb reminds her of His faithfulness in hearing her prayers and knowing what she needs before she can even ask for it. He has been faithful in providing love, support, family, friends, a home, and jobs. Yet, mental illness continues to rage in their adopted daughter, and many days it drowns out the small whisper of LOVE that invades their home. She sat with her head in her hands, tears pouring as the worship leader up front sang, “we will never know the cost of what You gave for us. We can never understand what You did for us Jesus.” As those words spilled out of the vocalist mouth, Jesus whispered to her, “you know. You understand this cost far more than most. You understand the life I gave for the ONE in front of me. You understand what I gave up for your freedom. You know the cost because you gave up your life for her. You fight daily for someone who spits in your face. You understand the cost, Beloved. So child, would you say yes again?”

“Would you say yes again.”

She sat in that prayer house, tears streaming as she contemplated. Would she go back to that moment staring at the world in front of her and say, “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything,” again, knowing what it would cost. Her eyes drifted to the world map at the back of the room, and her gaze settled on Pennsylvania. “Yes,” her heart whispered. “Yes. No matter the cost, You are worth it Papa. I’ll go anywhere. I’ll do anything, for YOU. Yes.”

“Yes”

Lift your head weary one. He’s worth it.

 

Worship Night Coming Up

We are excited to announce the start of Kingdom Builder’s Summer Worship Nights. These nights will be a time of worship, food, fellowship, and yard games. All are welcome! The kick off night is in one week! May 19. Event starts at 5:30pm and will go until 9pm. Bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Each following event will be the third Saturday of the month. (June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15, October 20). We would love to be able to better connect with the local communities in this area. It is our prayer that these nights would be an uplifting time and a time to connect with new friends. Address is 3327 West Ridge Pike Pottstown PA. We hope to see you May 19!

Embrace Peace

Be still and know that I am God.

My heart feels as though the Lord is constantly speaking this to me, forever telling me to trust Him, and longing for me to sit in His beauty. I’m reminded daily how easy it is to get swept into the beautiful array of ministries that surround us, but then we suddenly find ourselves tired, weary, worn down, and crying out to God for rest.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Seek first the Kingdom and righteousness and all shall be added unto you. I love this promise from our good, good Father. As we faithfully seek after Him and what He is doing here on Earth, everything else is added to us. We have peace with God because of Jesus, and because of that, there is a way we can walk through this life that we do not end up weary. As we follow Him and learn to encounter His heart daily, we are filled up, and He adds all else unto us.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Being a parent has made me see how a new level of how my life is not my own. I think about her needs more than I do mine, and plan my days according to what she has going on. I laugh even as I write this because I just signed papers for her school, have dinner going on the stove, am helping Vanessa do her hair, and am listening to constant questions while trying to type this. “Why is it light out still? Why do seasons change? Is it spring time now? Will it snow again? I don’t like snow. I hope it’s spring time. Are we moving? Why do we only have one bathroom in our house? Do some people have two bathrooms? Why do people need such big houses?” The questions are endless. So many whys! Family is always your first ministry though, and I cherish moments like these because they remind me to slow it all down, breathe, and embrace the journey. Child-like wonder is something we all need to embrace more. It reminds me to never let the ministry of Vanessa’s Village become more important than my daughter Vanessa.

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

Recently God has been speaking to me about the word EMBRACE. I feel it is a message for more than just me though, so I feel led to share it here. Embrace where God has placed you. Embrace the season He has you in. Embrace the realm of simply sitting at His feet and slowing down for a bit. I feel as though God is saying that He wants to bring us back. I feel He says this. “I want to bring my children back to a simple time, when they had awe and wonder, questions and joy, and when laughter filled their mouths. Child, you keep fighting the role I have called you to, the place I have you, and you are only doing damage to yourself. The more you thrash around in the quick sand, the faster you sink, but I want you to EMBRACE these trial around you; embrace the season I have you in. I am leaning down with a helping hand. Just as I pulled Peter out of the water after he fell in when his eyes were cast down to the waves, so will I pull you out. Do not be like the other disciples and merely sit on the boat, terrified of Me before them on the water. Be like Peter, trusting Me. Step out in faith in what I have called you to. Embrace the call. Even if you sink I am there, for it is better you sink and I lift you than you never walk on the water. Be still and KNOW me. Do not simply understand me. I want you to know the person I am, the heart I have for you. Embrace me, for I am yours and you are Mine.”

If ministry ever comes before my relationship with You God, take it away.

The Lord has incredible things for us as we seek Him. Come, join us on Tuesday evenings 6:30-8:30pm at 330 N. Main St. Souderton PA 18964 for a time of sitting at His feet and being filled by all He has for us as we embrace where He has us and seek Him first. For more information on this ministry, click Ministries tab and in the drop down select Alabaster Prayer House.

You are so deeply loved!