Give To Jon and Anna's church

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

God bless this mess.

I am going to get back to the simple truth Friends, God is at work among us, but it is a mess.  

 I am writing today to share with you how it works around our house.  I am writing with a motive--so let’s just get that out of the way now, we need some financial help to keep doing what we are doing, or to even do what we are doing bigger and better, which I confess scares to me death.  We are hosting a fundraiser On Sunday December 4th, 2016 at 3pm at the Northern Lighthouse Church.  We will be talking about our ministries and sharing the reasons we need monthly support.  We will have a lovely video or two, some testamonies and dessert and COFFEE, roasted by our own Todd Schmeeckle.  We are hoping for a commitment of 2,000/month, this would cover the rent on the house we are renting for our transition house and the utilities.  ANYWAY,  let’s just get back to the simple, the bless of the mess, because God woke me up this morning with a truth in mind and hopefully the words to explain it.

                When we moved into community 8 years ago, I had no idea what God was doing.  But when I got married in 2008, I gave my husband a Bible with this written in the front of it “I love you and love what God is doing and going to do with us! Forever with you will be a glorious adventure!!”  Our life has been an adventure.  Instead of a dream house in the suburbs we bought an apartment building in T town with another couple, and a BUNCH of other people who worked at the homeless shelter with my hubby.   Without a super clear vision, we began our work, to live simply enough, so we could work part time and still do ministry.  What ministry?  Well the one that involves loving "the least of these"….and God gets to pick who they are, and He is the best at it (that was a good lesson we learned).

                So we learned to open our lives and our families to what God was doing and He has done a great work.  I think the major lesson that I have learned is that I need help…..…. well not just me, we all need it right?  But here is the thing, as I realize that I need help and accept it, God uses my need for help for HIS glory, HIS purpose and it helps others.  So in my need for help, the act of helping me can bring blessing on the person helping me.  This sounds either slightly profound, or like I run a cult, geez I hope I am not running a cult.  (people joke about that when you buy a community…and all live together….but I promise you the guy with guns just moved out!!)  Anyway, I am going to try to give you some examples of the way this works and hope that you too, can see God’s humor and glory in our lives.

                I think I am finally starting to see that God uses who we are to do His work.  So in reality, in the simplest terms, I learn from Him how to be the best version of myself, meaning, the most fulfilled in Him version of myself and He then uses it to build His kingdom.  So it ALL comes from Him (I am flowing in some Paul here).  Here’s the funny thing, all of these stories of me being the “best version of myself” are stories of me being a complete mess….the part I am trying to get at is, I was able to open my arms fully to the person God sent to help me, that is Him using me, I am an accepting, loving person and the scary doesn’t scare me, but I am a mess and need HELP.  

                So here goes.  Two years ago, I had a baby.  This came about 1 year and 1 month after we brought Simon home from Bulgaria.  Simon is non-verbal, non-walking, has auto aggression problems and has a whole slew of other special needs but God used us, our mess, to bring him out of a horrible place (we aren’t saints we just said YES).  Anyway, so here I am, Simon has been home for a year, he is still hitting himself a lot, getting him dressed and changing his diapers is hard and for the past 4 months, I haven’t been able to do much of his care because I have been pregnant (Simon kicks hard, so I kept the belly away from him).  I am home from the hospital with June and nursing is going the way nursing goes for me, it is flipping hard and painful.  The first night Jon had to work and I was alone with the kids, Simon needed a diaper change and was hitting himself and June started crying….and so did I, but I also called Adam.... he wasn’t home, but he turned his car around and came home, to hold my baby.  Ah, community….but wait, Adam isn’t why I was telling this story, although I really do miss him.  (He moved out, he was the hunter….remember the guy with guns I mentioned earlier?  J).  

                When June was about a month old, we got a phone call from someone at our church, saying there was a girl who wanted to come to church the next day but she needed a place to stay that night.  So I packed up my baby and went to pick her up.  That was when I met KH, and this is the point of this story.  KH was coming off of meth and was ready to quit and was homeless.  We were just going to give her a place to stay for that night but you know what happened?  We let her stay for a while longer….it was not all puppies and rainbows but do you know what happened?  KH LOVED Simon, she would sit with him for hours, tapping his cheek (this is what he LOVES and it helps calm him down and stops him from hitting himself).  Anyway, KH was able to come into my home, be herself, love Simon and in that she found, a purpose and a need that only she could fill, it was a job MADE for her, MADE for her in her mess.  Also remember, I was a hormonal mess of just having a baby and struggling to nurse.  Having KH around to help me with Simon also gave me a purpose and was a blessing in my life too.  

All I did was open my home and God brought me someone to help with Simon while he made the hard transition from being the youngest to being the middle child.  And you know what KH learned about God, after staying with us in our home, in our community?  She said for the first time in her life “she could believe that God loved her.”  That is the truth I hold onto when I see that she is still struggling in her addiction.  God used my mess and her mess to bring Him glory and bless us BOTH.  (Well ALL of us really).

Another beautiful example is in a woman who was escaping a bad relationship; she came into our building at just the right time.   Again, remember me as a mother of 3, who works part time, homeschools, volunteers at church and runs the books for the community, I am busy, I am stressed, I am pretty much a mess.  AW came to us with a LOVE of children, and you know what, she is AMAZING with kids.  She started just giving my husband and I time together, or time for me to go to counseling J and blessed us by watching our kids without payment.  In fact, when we would come home she would THANK us for letting her spend time with our kids.  She tells us that it is like therapy for her to be with our babies.  Talk about God.  All I do, is accept people who come to help me.  That is how our community works, that is how God works.

So, what I really want to tell you about is that we are taking on another house, we call it the R12 house (Romans 12) and it is right across the alley from the Bolivar House.  Now taking on more houses has been downright scary and a bit overwhelming so it is clearly an area where I will need help.  Can God use men coming out of prison in the same way as he used KH and AW?  Well, so far….YES.  FL has been living in the R12 house for 7 months.  While he has been struggling to find a job, due to his felony, he has been busy in his garden growing veggies for the community and in the kitchen baking and cooking.  He will just stop by with food for my family.  It has been JUST the HELP I need….and he has been blessed to have people to cook for.  After spending 20 years in prison, he was able to step out of that institution and INTO our community, where he is finding that his gifts, are used to help in our community.  He said, “No one should feel as at peace as I do here, after 20 years in prison.”  That is God at work.

JD moved into the R12 house a month ago after paroling out of prison, but my 2 year old daughter June, LOVES him.  I think it is probably because whenever adults are standing around talking, he is making faces at her and playing peek a boo.  I think he is a child at heart.  He has also been struggling to find work due to his record but has been BUSY helping us do some work around the community.  Again, God has brought us someone who is blessing us and is blessed, because on his own, alone in an apartment, struggling to find work, JD would not have the same sense of LOVE, acceptance and VALUE that he has in our community.  And all we have to do, is tell him the TRUTH of God’s love for him….and JD can believe it because he sees it lived out….he sees that he has a place in our community, he has worth, and he is more than just his criminal record and can be a blessing to our family.

Now, here is it….every person I have shared about has been struggling financially.  That is where we need some help.  Our dream is to have some financial partners who can donate to us monthly so that we can keep helping not only the JD and FL, the men in the R12 house paroling out of prison but also the AWs, because as she tries to reunite with her children, she has been struggling to make rent.  We want to be able to show some grace, to accept help/services in the form of payment for rent,  however, that is not how the bank works, they seem to want money, not cookies for the mortgage payment.  If only there was a Jesus bank….I bet he wouldn’t charge interest on our loans!!

We would like to buy the R12 house (right now we are renting),…..but we also have some broader……bigger visions…… we have a dream of someday running a business that could provide jobs for these guys coming out of prison (T.E.A.M. Bean) who struggle to get work because of their record.  We would like to have money coming for support staff for the R12 house--someone who can give guys rides, and be a listening ear/life coach.  And to be honest, I wonder if I could be a writer and musician…I have a vision of helping those in prison write music….but I struggle to have the time.

 So that is what I wanted to tell you, I want you to know that I have finally figured out the way our community works….it is broken people (me) who want to help other broken people (addicts, parolees, abused women) who accept help from said, “broken people” and God uses it to heal us ALL and bring us All into his kingdom.  Would you want to support our vision?  Would you be able to give a one time gift or a monthly gift to support what we are doing at the Bolivar House and the R12 house?   I can even make it tax deductible!  God bless your mess, friends, may He help you to ask for help, and may you see the help transform the world around you!!!

How can you give?  Well, you can use paypal to give right from this blog if you want!  Or you can message me/call me/write to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tears and Tears

There are some things in the English language that are just ironic.  some that are just so full of symoblism that you couldn't make them up.  Often it makes me wonder what symbolism and expressions exsist in the languages that I don't know and what God might be trying to tell our particular people group, the english speaking ones, through the words that we use to express ourselves and understand our world.  But I am a bit of an geek....I did get a degree in English.....I guess this is me putting it to work :)  the title of this blog is Tears and Tears....but one of those words is the word tear, like rip apart and the other is tear, like what falls from your eyes.

And there you have I have felt, how many in our community have felt for a while.  You know there is an expression about tearing a bandaid off quickly.  But here is the thing, when you are loving someone and LIVING with someone, you grow together, your families grow together and your history, struggle, sins and victories all lay roots....deep...down....inside.  so when you rip that band aid off, when you tear yourselves apart, it hurts, a lot.  There

We had to say goodbye to a good friend, of course the goodbye can't be forever, we will see her, we have seen her but again, just like I shared with Adam, it is hard because your relationship changes so much when you stop living with someone.

Tonight, our blog says goodbye to Sarah, and her son Sammy.

I have learned so much from you Sarah about JOY about being yourself, about how important, talking to yourself and singing to yourself while you do housework really is, about how much JOY and freedom that can bring to yourself and everyone around you.  I have learned that there are just special people out there who my kids just LOVE.  I have learned that Simon does know the voices of those around him and that he can dance on command, your command, that when he hears your voice he will smile.  I have learned that sometimes my baby June will cry when I pull her from your arms, because she loves being with you that much, enough that at times, she prefers you to her mom.  Ishmael was more influenced by your son, Sammy.  I am still having long conversations about pokemon and five nights at freddys (don't judge me other parents that know what that is)  He LOVED your son so so much.

We LOVE you and miss you and I can't wait until we can have a reunion where you love yourself as much as we, the Bolivar community, love you.  Where you see yourself as LOVED by God, as special and wonderful, gifted, called and embraced as HE says you are in HIS word.  You are HIS child, HE has you, HE CHASES YOU, better than we EVER could.

Sammy, I pray for you so often.  That God would protect you and your heart, that you would HEAR HIM calling you, and that you would turn to HIM in when ever you feel alone.  You are worthy, you are loved, you are chosen....damn the lies that say otherwise, damn the events of your life that would contradict the truth of God's love.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Turn and face the strain ch-ch-changes

Sooooo after living in the Bolivar house for 7 years, I have had to say goodbye to many friends.  It was never goodbye forever, but just goodbye to the time of living together.  If you have ever gone to college or experienced another time of your life where you had roommates, you might knwo what I am talking about.  Although I am still friends with my friends from college, I can never travel back to that point of time where we LIVED together or spent so much time together it seemed as though we lived together.

Anyway, yes relationships continue but they can't ever be as close as when you are actually living with someone.  For this reason, I don't take the change of someone moving out of the community lightly, and to be honest I wish I was better at it, meaning, I wish that each person leaving got a lovely commemorative Bolivar House photo book, but that seems to just be a pipe dream at this point (or for the last 5 years when I have wanted to have something to give someone when they left), but at this point, I can at least give them an ode on the blog.  Perhaps on a throw back Thursday I can give an Ode to others who have gone before but for now, here is to you, Adam, Sarah and Sammy.

Adam, adam adam, you will be missed, not only for your well brewed beer, or your smoked meat or deer of all types, but for who you are and your heart for our community.  I can't really say that anyone else has come to us at just the right time with just the right heart like you did.  You have brought together so many different groups of believers into our midst and served as the bridge between our community, college kids and affluent folks.  We thank you for just being you.  We thank you for your heart to serve Jesus with your LIFE, no matter how crazy it seemed to anyone else at the time.  I continue to pray for you and am excited to see what God does in your life in the future.  I would say, without a doubt you are leaving the biggest physical mark on this community, second only to Daniel....but your mark is on the outside, so everyone can see it!!!!  (Adam, build our out door patio/firepit area).

Adam has promised to still come by the house on sunday afternoons and I am pretty sure I caught him mowing our lawn the day after he moved perhaps he isn't rid of us yet.   We miss you already!!!

its so hard to say goodbye

If after reading this title you have the boy's to men song in your head, you might be around my age :)

Well, we have been going through some changes at the bolivar house and change is HARD.  Grief is hard and letting go of friends is also hard.  Pretty much, its a hard knock life at the community. (man I am full of music tonight!)

First, of future posts explaining the losses, is this one; the schmeeckle family experienced the loss of their cat Elmo. After a very funny group text message it was agreed that Elmo should be buried in our yard.   Todd, Mikie, Jordyn, Sammy, Ishmael, Jon and I gathered outside for the funeral.  It was meaningful.  It was emotional and it was final.  I wish that I could've gotten Mikie's prayer recorded.....if you have heard him pray before you can only image the wonder that was his prayer at his family cat's funeral.  But I was able to get Ishmael's prayer...and it sure was emotional.  Then each child took turns shoveling dirt into the hole.

words that work.

We home school Ishmael, our 6 year old.  In fact, my husband and I aren't the only ones homeschooling at the Bolivar house anymore.  Last year the Schmeeckles started homeschooling Amber and this year Asher is being home schooled too, although he has his own on site teacher.  Allison agreed to go part time in her para position at LPS to help home-school Asher for the Schmeeckles. 

Anyway, as I have been reading the kid oriented bible book I have been finding a lot of truths.  Which really just proves my point that if someone has low literacy and no biblical knowledge as an adult, maybe we shouldn't hand them the NIV bible, perhaps we should hand them a storybooks with pictures!  But I am moving away from my point, which is this, I was reading along in this book and it was a rendition of John 14.  Jesus was talking to Philip and said, "dude, you keep asking me about my father, but I am telling you, you have been hanging out with me for a while now, if you know me, you already KNOW my father."  (Anna's paraphrased version)

It kind of stopped me cold.  Because I am have been following Jesus for a while now, and I am DOWN with Jesus and His teachings, but to be honest, the "Father", the God of the old testament, has always kind of freaked me out.  The old testament is full of smiting and what seems to be crazy massacres for no other reason, other than those people aren't HIS people, and you know what, it freaks me out. The Jesus I know, seems to love all people, I mean, He did die for EVERYONE right, regardless of who they were?

Anyways, it made me think and brought me a lot of peace, it is amazing how Jesus can bring peace in the midst of any storms with His words of truth.  I can't wait to see Him face to face and look into His eyes, man, that must of been super intense when he walked this earth.

So there is my deep thought for you, brought from the pages of a kids bible book.

Friday, July 15, 2016


So this summer my sister in law is manning a program called Immerse.  The idea is for youth groups to take a missions trip to Lincoln to take a look at some of the ministries that our churches have going on. (F street Neighborhood church and Northern Lighthouse).  Since we, the Bolivar House, are pretty embedded in it and also are cool people, the groups have been coming to our house to hang out and have a tour.

The first group that came through was huge and we got a crash course in what this whole thing was going to be like.  I don't know that I took very good pictures of that group coming through because it was so new and we were pretty busy while they were here.  However, highlights included my wonderful description of walking into walmart and feeling like I could see the blood of slaves all over the clothes that are for sale there.  This was a shocker, I followed up to explain that we live in an Empire and we have a responsibility to think about the purchases we make and how they might be effecting the poor in other countries.  I didn't mean to go into it....but I did....whoops.  Another "mistake" I made with this group was when I heard a loud boom and stopped my presentation to say, "was that a gun shot, no that was probably just a firework, but earlier today, I totally heard a gun shot."  I covered it up by saying, "its okay, you guys are safe, no one is going to shoot you".  I decided NOT to point out the bullet hole in our window upstairs on the tour. :)

I don't recall saying anything too scandalous or shocking to this group.  Other than asking them if they remembered meeting a friend of mine earlier in the day.  telling them why I find him such a wonderful part of our community and then saying, "well, he was in prison for murder".  I suppose that might count as both scandalous and shocking.  I reminded them to remember my friend next time they read something in the paper like "convicted killer denied parole". (see my other blog post with that title about another friend of mine).

Anyways, we are loving meeting these kids, and they seem to be loving us!!  The group stopped by today before they went back home and I got some lovely pictures of them that I wanted to share here.
I told them to hold up their coffee!  Todd gave them samples of the T.E.A.M. bean coffee to take home with them!

They all just fit in so easily with our community, shooting the breeze with Mikey and most likely talking about coffee or grants with Todd!

This wonderful group painted our fence for us, so I HAD to make them stand in front of it!! :)  We are so happy with all the ways this group blessed us.  They also made an awesome mural that I will add a photo of soon....when my baby isn't crying :)

June's favorite person is Sarah!!  Sarah even did her hair up for the big she is pointing to our friends as they drive off!!

I hope we get to see you all again someday soon....and perhaps we can have an online friendship until then friends!!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

summer at the house

Summer is hands down my favorite time of the year at the Bolivar house.  We spend as much time as we possibly can outside which means we get to see a lot more of our neighbors and friends and grill, grill, grill.  A couple weeks ago we had an epic Saturday and I managed to take some photos to document the day, I am finally learning how to do the blog thing for this community!!!

The Schmeeckles decided to buy a new couch (new to them :)) off of a site kind of like craigslist.  Well, whenever someone gets something new, there becomes a great swap to catch the hand-me-downs.  So, the schmeeckles new couch purchase started a great day of moving couches in and out of several apartments in our community.  Todd was still down from his surgery so we recruited one of our R12 house guys to help us and he and my hubby got to work!

I just shot a lot of photos and got out of the way.  Well, until my friend came over to help me put in the new to us washer and dryer :)

our old couch was ejected into the hallway to make room for the Schmeeckles old couch.  Tara wanted our old one to go into her place....but sadly it didn't fit....

Dangelo and Jon did all the heavy comes a new red chair...I think it ended up in Tara's house since they moved her couch out and couldn't get ours down the stairs...and they were NOT going to move it back in :)

We kept Todd from doing any heavy lifting, so he and I put their old couch back together in our place....using his drill, pictured here, well I suppose that is only the battery :)

it's break time....time to get some laughs talking to Mikie!!

what?  me help?

hahahha no, silly, I am leaving right now to go to Haiti!!!

more fixing but not lifting done by Todd!!

Here comes the couch

June wanted to help!

up up and away to the schmeeckle's place

so our couch ended up outside on the curb, along with Tara's....then the snow cone truck came by to bless us with snowcones!!!  so the kids made great use of their new outdoor furniture!

After all the moving it was time to relax with our friends and neighbors in the backyard...this is what summer looks like at the Bolivar house..