Extraordinary days

Class is in session.  This thing we’ve been waiting for and working towards for the past three years is here and it feels so normal and extraordinary at the same time.

As I was driving to orientation I was praying and heard the Lord say to “Expect the extraordinary to become ordinary”.  This has become my prayer: that these four amazing women who have stepped out into new territory will begin to experience extraordinary things so often they become ordinary.  That over and over again in their lives will they level up to new experiences and places in the Kingdom.

It feels so right to have them here.  While we absolutely needed the three year building period, it was also hard to not actually be doing the fun stuff.  Up until a few days everything was theoretical.  We’ve been telling people that this will work based on what God has shown us, but now we get to see it play out in real life.  Now we get to see them go out and change the world with the message of Jesus.

Brad came home for lunch today, day two of classes, and said “They’re praying, reading, and writing, what more could we want?”

These students are diving right into the work.  They are diving into spiritual development.  They are forming relationships and community amongst themselves and others in our town.  This is real life and it’s finally here.

Thank you Jesus.

Time for the new.

I’m sorting through every single thing in our kitchen today.  We are preparing to fully gut it tomorrow, a project that is happening about 5 years later than we thought it would.

Life has been a little rocky lately.  We’ve had some strange medical issues, along with some normal but annoying sicknesses.  It feels as though we’ve had every common ailment over the past few weeks, and at times like it may never end.

We are embarking on a new thing, the School of Kingdom Writers is just a few weeks from launching its first full time classes.  Students are actually moving from all over the country to little Zanesville, Ohio to learn how to disrupt the media with Kingdom values.  This tiny seed has grown so large in the past three years.

Our kitchen, once my grandma’s kitchen, has now gotten to the point where the sink constantly drips, several cabinet doors are missing, appliances are partially broken, wallpaper is half hanging off, and the floor breaks off in pieces every time I sweep.

It’s time for the new thing.

We had a drywaller scheduled to come out, but after all the medical issues and ailments, along with some poor planning on our part, we were left feeling very unprepared for this undertaking.  We knew we could push it back if we needed to, so we sat down and asked God about it one evening.

I went into prayer under the assumption that the best choice would be to reschedule.  There’s no way we could accomplish all of this with the chaos around us.  Thankfully God thinks so differently than I do, and I immediately heard that there is “grace for August”.  So we sat our butts down, figured out all the details, and amazingly got everything ordered so that it will be here in time to make this kitchen brand new.  The gold medal goes to Brad who did the majority of the measuring and ordering while fighting off a painful ear infection.

Today I am tasked with taking everything out and deciding where it needs to go for the next few weeks.  Is it useful for now, later, or does it just need to go into the trash?  I’ve been surprised at how little stress I’ve felt.  Sure, there are things I would rather be doing than rearranging our house, but for the most part it has not been hard, difficult, or overwhelming to prepare the kitchen for this project.  I fully believe the rest of it will go off without a hitch, and if you’ve ever done home renovations you know what a rarity that is.  But because we asked, and God told us there is grace on right now, I believe He is going to pour out his goodness onto the work of our (and our drywaller’s) hands.

This morning I was listening to Ecclesiastes in the Message version and loved this is worded:

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” Ecclesiastes 3:1

God truly does have a time and a plan for everything.  Sometimes we rush ahead, sometimes we lag behind, but when we ask him and are obedient to HIS plan then grace will follow.  That doesn’t mean we can’t do things at different times, it means that it will flow easiest and most according to His will when we are walking in obedience.

Over three years ago we were divinely given a timeline to follow for launching the School of Kingdom Writers.  We were to begin in September of that year, and three years later classes were to start.  We always held onto that, and made plans accordingly.  I remember that several people thought we could launch quicker if we wanted to and, with a very get it done style husband, I knew we could too.

Several times over the past year I have reflected on the fact that if we had been in charge of the timing of the school, we almost certainly would have launched in 2020.  What a disaster that would have been trying to figure out what to do in the midst of that COVID madness.  God knew everything that was to come, and that the world is ripe for change and more fully aware of how troubled our media and culture really is.

It is time for the new thing.

 

The swarm dream

In June of 2018 I had a prophetic dream.  We were still in the beginning stages of planning for the School of Kingdom Writers, and without a doubt I knew this was a message that had to do with the vision God was placing in our hearts and minds.

I’ve sat with it for a year and half now, and processed through it at different times.  God brought it to mind again recently and I feel like it’s time to share.

It was a very short dream, but with great depth of meaning.

It took place in a barn, a brand new barn that was tall but had open sides.  In the very top of the barn there was a honeybee swarm.  A beekeeper dressed in a white suit came along and began to transfer the swarm to a new hive.  As the beekeeper moved them, the bees began to cheer in their tiny voices and were full of joy.  I awoke hearing the words, “They were eager to find their destiny.”

The church is awakening.  We are moving into a new era where the old won’t work anymore.  Church isn’t going to work the way it has, and here are many people who love Jesus and want to follow Him with all their hearts but they just don’t feel like they have a place in the church.  There might be different reasons for that, but the sentiment is the same, church is broken.

The swarm in this dream represents these people, the ones who have been sitting in church but don’t feel like they have a place.  The ones who want to follow Jesus but feel like they don’t fit in anywhere.  When honeybees swarm it’s for reproduction.  Our churches have come up against a wall.  The new barn with open sides represents the newness of this move that God is bringing. It is OPEN, there are not parameters that will define this move. People do not want to be boxed into what church “should” look like anymore and are hungry for real experiences. They are leaving to create new opportunities for evangelism; they are leaving to grow the church. They know Jesus is bigger and more magnificent than what can be felt solely inside church walls and they are hungry for it. They are eager to find their destinies.

The beekeeper represents Jesus, who is transferring these people who are who are earnestly seeking him, into the places where they fit in.  We are on the cusp of a great move of God, and I believe that it is going to look radically different than anything we have experienced so far.  The bees were overjoyed at the beekeeper rescuing them and giving them a new home.  Just as those who are earnestly seeking the Lord are overjoyed when they finally find their place, their community, their calling and their destiny.  No longer will people settle for sitting in the pews and simply listening to a preacher because they know that with the risk of Jesus comes a calling in the Kingdom.  They are not willing to merely to sit on the sidelines, but instead they are in it to win it.

The School of Kingdom Writers is one of these places, a place where people are going to come to find their calling and find their destiny.   A place that is outside of the box, outside of what looks like church.

God is resplendent, He is overwhelmingly majestic and as a people we are drawn to His beauty.  Through us His brilliant light shines, a light that will not be put into a box.  It cannot be contained, you cannot put a finger on what it is.  Although He never changes, the ways He reaches the lost and changes the world are always moving, always adapting, always growing.  We just have to listen to where He is calling us.

A new thing

About a month ago as I was laying down for bed, an image of a fire burning came into my mind.  I closed my eyes to see what God had for me.

I found myself a couple of stories up in an old building downtown.  As I looked out there appeared to be a beautiful sunset, glowing orange and red, but as I moved closer to the window, I could see that buildings were on fire.  However, instead of it being detrimental, I had the sense of this being peaceful and good.

I was moved outside on the street and noticed the fire was burning certain buildings, but instead of destroying them it was making them new again.  This was downtown revitalization, one building block at a time for the Kingdom.

Suddenly, I was back in the room where I began, and there was a line of people around the perimeter of the room (it was large and open) reaching their hands out and praying.  I looked out the window and saw people praying and walking away from the building to bring Jesus to the community.

God is raising this up.  I am certain he is placing dreams in Kingdom minded people’s heads right now of businesses they want to start and ways they can make this community better.  I don’t know if it’s a coffee shop or a guitar store, but I do know for certain that when God is in charge of these dreams He has a big plan for us and for our community.

The School of Kingdom Writers is going to draw 24 people who will live and work in Zanesville, who will wield the power of the Kingdom of God to restore brokenness and bind the brokenhearted.  They will support and encourage a thriving community, while learning about how to claim writing and media spaces for God.

I am so looking forward to what Zanesville will look like in 10, 20, 30 years.  It will be a different place, a place where God manifest presence is known.  We pray and believe that addiction will flee, sickness will be healed and hopelessness with be replaced with Jesus, our everlasting spring of Life.

 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43: 19

Business, not as usual.

Not many know this, but the first business Brad and I ever started was an online hookah retailer.  Yes, you heard me right, we sold hookahs in college.

I can’t stop laughing while writing this out because it seems so long ago and so foreign, but once upon a time this young married couple at Ohio University went into business with a friend because they thought they could get a corner on the hookah business in Athens.  Plus, we enjoyed smoking the fun fruity tobaccos.  They were somehow “better” for you because they tasted good, right?

This isn’t something you lead with when introducing yourself, or even when sharing your life, but it’s an important part of our story because it was one of the first times we decided to do life differently.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t go well and we weren’t able to quit our jobs and lived as the hookah kings of Athens, but we began to learn lessons about what it means to own a business.

A few years later after doing the “normal” job thing we both quit to travel and pursue God in greater measure.  We developed our own businesses because we knew deep down there had to be more for us than working 40 hours a week to make a corporation rich.

We built our businesses, I took pictures and Brad designed websites, and we made them work mostly on our own.  We prayed about them and when things were hard we asked God to bless them and help make ends meet.   The beautiful thing is he always did; we always had enough.  We built our businesses and God was our sidekick.

A few years passed and after many late night front porch sessions it was decided that Brad would build a new company that helped people self-publish their writing.  We were older and more in tune with the Lord.   Through prayer this direction felt right, but it was still us doing the building and the grunt work.  Again, we would come to the Lord with prayer requests when money was tight or when there was a tough situation, but this was still a business that WE made and that WE were in control of.    Despite that, He has blessed this business beyond measure and we have learned to hand over more of our lives, little by little, to the God and creator of our Universe.

God began calling Brad and I to full time ministry this past year.  We explored and prayed for what that would be, and slowly the vision came into focus.

We are to start a School for Kingdom Writers here in Zanesville.  Students will live here for two years, immersed in both a writing and Kingdom living program.

For the first time in our lives, this is all God.  There is no way this school would come to fruition by our own accord.  It’s too mighty and massive and we are not skilled in all the parts necessary for it to thrive.  Oh, not to mention the large cost it will incur, and we are a people that live committed to doing everything with zero debt.

But God has relayed to us in many prayer sessions and prophetic words via our brothers and sisters that HE is going to do this in His power, not ours.  We are merely vessels, but he has assured us to dream the big dreams that he is laying on our hearts because they will certainly come to pass.

This doesn’t mean we sit back as passive spectators in our life, but it does mean that we can choose to not participate in the worry and stress that comes with starting a non-profit.  We get the chance to trust our creator fully and without waver, knowing that even as we’ve held onto parts of our lives for our own, HE STILL PROVIDED FOR US.

This is a defining moment in our lives as we take the leap of faith from in control to His control.  We are all in, ready to look like fools for the sake of the advancement of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His wave of great mercy and love is coming in and it will wash over everything in this land, in this community and The School of Kingdom Writers is going to be one part of how He chooses to spread His message.  To God be all the glory.