For a long time I struggled with the thought that the homeless ministry was John-Mark's calling and not my own. Our introduction to Midland's homeless community began at a local street church service. We showed up every Saturday when we were in town. We would experience deep and raw worship like I had never experienced before. Watching people that had nothing just pour themselves into worship changed my heart. I developed relationships with our neighbors on the streets and knew a lot of them by name.
When Truma was born, everything changed. I now had this fragile life that I was responsible for. She was born in May and I concluded that our Texas summers were far too hot for an infant, so I stayed at home with Truma on Saturdays. When Truma was a few months old, my mom started keeping her on Saturday mornings, but I still chose to stay home as this was the only time I had to get things done without a baby attached to me. At the same time, I was pursuing my passion for photography by starting a business with my sister-in-law. I began to feel like I was piggy backing off of John-Mark's service to the homeless and that my work wasn't benefitting the Lord at all.
John-Mark and I meet with bible study groups on Tuesday and Thursday night. The husbands all meet in one home and the wives meet in another. These girls have been such an incredible encouragement to me and I thank God for them daily. As I was struggling with these feelings of uselessness, my friends constantly reminded me that my calling at that point in time was to be a mother to Truma. Still, I felt like I wasn't doing enough.
I remember the first time John-Mark sent me information on Community First! Village. I thought it was cool, but honestly didn't pay much attention to it. When he mentioned the 3 day symposium that Community First! was holding, I encouraged him to go... although my motivations were probably geared more toward laying in bed by myself eating a bloomin' onion from Outback Steakhouse more than they were for helping our friends on the streets. (Too honest?)
John-Mark came home from Austin FIRED UP. He was ready to buy land and build a village here right then. He told me all he had learned and told me about the homes and gardens and animals. I have always dreamed of having gardens and beehives and animals, so this place was sounding like Eden to me. I began to daydream with John-Mark about the potential for bringing this incredible place to Midland and actually helping some of our chronically homeless friends build a new life for themselves.
Not long after the symposium, John-Mark told me about Community Corps - a 4 month missional training program at Community First! Village. The fourth time he mentioned it, I told him to go ahead and look into it and that we could talk about it. I honestly didn't think I would be able participate in the program because of Truma, so I was shocked when the program director, Bethany, responded to John-Mark's email with excitement saying she wanted to talk with us the next day. At this point I was thinking, "What are we getting ourselves into?" A day later when we hung up the phone with Bethany, I was speechless. She was so sweet and encouraging. She understood our desire to include Truma in our work at the village and was very open to our unique needs. I wasn't exactly excited after this conversation, but I remember having the immediate realization that this was actually going to happen.
After our conversation with Bethany, we dove into prayer. Constant prayer. We knew that the Community Corps program included lodging in one of their Community Inn tiny houses. These are small one room houses with two twin beds, a mini fridge and a microwave. I was really starting to freak out about trying to live in a one room tiny house with a toddler. Anyone who knows us knows that our daughter is absolutely amazing... but the girl doesn't sleep well. At all. When we travel and stay in hotel rooms, she always ends up in our bed... and then none of us sleep. So how on earth were we supposed to survive four months in a one room tiny house? My wheels started turning. Knowing we were selling our home and that Community First! Village has RV spaces, I started to brainstorm about the potential of living in an RV during our stay. Not only would this give us a place to live after our stay in the village (if our house sells, Lord willing), but it would make our time there a lot more pleasant and restful. I brought up the idea to John-Mark, got his approval, pitched the idea to Bethany and received approval from the big decision makers for the program.
As this little dream became a reality, the Lord really started to change my heart. I realized that this can be something we can do as a family. This is not just my husbands calling, but a calling the Lord has placed on our entire family. It won't be an easy road, but The Lord has shown me over and over that this is exactly where He wants us - all of us.
So here we are... our house is still for sale, but we are praying it sells before we leave. We have an RV all ready to move into - I'm sure the blog post after move-in will be entertaining. And ya'll... the Lord is doing BIG BIG things. I used to think this was just about creating a true home for the homeless and helping them create a new life, but it is so much more. The Lord has shown me that this village can be huge for our community - for the entire Permian Basin. Our goal is to create a model similar to Community First! Village. We want to have free events on Saturdays and bring our city into the village. We want our neighbors to work alongside the formerly homeless. We want to change the perception of homelessness in our city. I believe that this will be a huge opportunity to create unity within our town. God broadens my view daily and I know what results will be far more than I can imagine. He is so good.
For now we are doing everything we can to prepare. I have been booking quite a few fall photoshoots, so my photography business is still keeping me busy! Truma attends Children's Day Out two days a week and is with me the rest of the time. John-Mark is working his booty off to support us. We are meeting with church leaders from different churches in Midland to make them aware of our calling and have gotten an overwhelming amount of support. Our Certificate of Formation will soon be sent off to the Secretary of State, so hopefully we will soon be an official corporation! We would love it if you could join us in prayer that our house would sell soon, as this would take a lot of pressure off of us as we head to Austin. Our lives are a little stressful right now, but our Father is constantly reminding us that He is going before us.
Thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement.
...and here's a photo of Truma dressed as a doctor just because.