Monday, June 3, 2013

A New Page Turns



The truth is, we've spent the last four days here in Ohio lazing around and not combing our hair. We've been napping in the afternoon and eating salsa after dark. Grilling, shopping, double dating. I splurged and bought the coolest mirror at Marshalls on clearance for $39, because I'm in that vacation frame of mind.

The truth behind the truth is, we're acting like we're on some kind of snazzy family vacation because we can, and it might be a while before we get the chance again. Big change awaits us on the flip-side of this trip.

Do you ever get tired of me saying that big change is coming?
Me, too.

But this is one of the greatest truths I've learned over the past 3 years: God doesn't leave us sitting still for long. I used to clamp my eyes shut through the wild waves of change, just waiting for still waters. Now I live a little seasick, and it feels like a lifeboat.

We've been in our new home for ten months. Just shy of one year. But we're settled in. We love this chapter. It fits, and it didn't take long at all to notice.

But where I used to exhale when the dust started to settle, I now start opening doors, peering around corners, watching the horizon line.

This is the life I was meant to live - at least today, but probably not forever, because if there's one thing I know for sure it's that as soon as things start to seem normal, a shake-down happens. I'm fine with that. It lends a certain air of adventure to life. - Yours Truly,February, 2013

I had no idea back in February what might happen in June. I couldn't have possibly guessed. If I had, I'd have sold us all short. I'd have settled for what I thought was right and missed out on part of the great romance that God already wrote for us, the one He laid out for us in baby-steps, all sly like a fox. He wooed us toward a future that once seemed foreign and now looks just like a foregone conclusion.

So, in hindsight, it all makes perfect sense. (Hindsight is a friend that way.)

Tomorrow, my husband Cory, takes over as the chaplain for our county jail.

It's so ridiculous and so amazing and I'm bowled over by the kindness of our Savior. I'm in awe at the way he so expertly positions us to do the work He has for us. I'm so grateful I was wrong when I thought God's call was a thing worth dreading or that living a life on mission meant probably never being happy.

Cory has knocked every job he's had out of the park. They used to be what the world might call "important", or "special". He earned a nice living, wore suits to work every day. Heck, he met the President - twice.

But I watched a secret part of him come alive when he went to work at The Crossing. From there we met Robert and then Haven and our life would be incomplete without them. From there we began to see our disenfranchised brothers and sisters through a new lens of love. We started sharing ourselves with new kinds of people and felt our ideas about family stretch and bend. His neckties grew lonely in the closet and his paycheck shrank, but our world began to tilt and we liked the view from where we stood - on the crest of a new understanding that maybe we had learned to value the wrong things.

It's dizzying to unlearn life. It's magical, too.

We're T-24 and I still don't know how to process this. I don't know what to expect and I'm trying not to guess.

The responsibility on his shoulders looks mountainous compared to juggling the schedules of important political figures. He's now the pastor for over 600 criminals. What I know for sure is that these people are hurting. They are wounded. Broken. They are alone. They've largely lived in poverty and dysfunction. They've been labeled and condemned. They have been wrong, just like me. They have failed, just like me. They need love. They need Jesus, just like me.

God has lavished His love on Cory by placing him where his heart beats loudest. It stuns me to think that we might have missed all of this if we had chosen to walk past every little step that made this a no-brainer.

At the risk of wearing you out with prayer requests, could you remember Cory tomorrow? And the days after that?

I'm so excited to watch his work begin. I can't wait to live another chapter with the man who reminds me every single day that obedience isn't the hard thing I sometimes make it. 

 "A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says - 'I cannot stand any more.' God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands." - Oswald Chambers, The Patience of Faith from My Utmost for His Highest

51 comments:

  1. Excited to hear from you how this is going for Cory. I don't have any doubt that those 600 people will feel God's presence through your husband, in one way or another. I just prayed for Cory and that God can do a lot of work through him.

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  2. Thanks for sharing - love it when God is working in the lives of so many. it's a great thing!

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  3. Praying now for your husband! So very excited for this opportunity that God has given him to be a light to those who are hurting. Brings a smile to my face! (:

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  4. Shannan, this is exciting to read about! This is my favorite bit:
    "It's so ridiculous and so amazing and I'm bowled over by the kindness of our Savior. I'm in awe at the way he so expertly positions us to do the work He laid out for us. I'm so grateful I was wrong when I used to think God's call was a thing worth dreading or that living a life on mission meant probably never being happy."

    I have been thinking about the very same thing as we are church planting and sometimes I feel myself thinking, "Oh my. We have to do this every week?! For the rest of our LIVES?!" and then I snap out of it and say, "NO! Answering God's call is the very BEST, most JOYFUL thing I can do! There can be no other way." So even in the hard and the parts where I think I am not cut out for this, I want to see His hand, the ways that He says, "Yes, you ARE cut out for this, but I am the one who cut you out!!"

    I could go on and on...but I won't. You may have just provided me a great writing prompt, though.

    Love to you and family on your new adventure. To God be the glory!

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  5. i've been praying, and i will keep on. God has so much good in store.

    love you both.

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  6. This is so just.... WOW! A.MA.ZING!

    Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on your family...and is lavishing on those behind the bars.

    Praying for Cory and for you and the for many lives that are going to be touched!

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  7. So exciting! One of my husband's favorite places to minister is in jail. It's a blessing to see how God is using both of you.
    ~FringeGirl

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  8. My son ministers at a prison 2 times a month and we loooove to hear how God is working there. He brings us funny, sad and inspiring stories that lift our hearts in praise. I'll remember to pray for Cory as I pray for my son. God's journey never stops.

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  9. I can HEAR my heart beating. I LOVE that God did this!

    Actual thoughts in my head this morning as I drove to work in solitude (before I read this):

    Me: Need Jesus
    Mother Teresa: Needed Jesus
    My family: Needs Jesus
    Hitler: Needed Jesus

    It washed over me like a ton of bricks. Sometimes when we say we ALL need Jesus, what we really mean is the people we LIKE need Jesus. The people that are GOOD need Jesus. The people that won't take too much work need Jesus.

    Even Hitler could have experienced His grace and mercy at the foot of the cross. Why does that sometimes surprise me?

    Anyway, so your blog post was the echo of my morning thoughts today.

    So excited for Corey and the preacher's wife. :)

    xxoo

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  10. i'm so excited for your family!
    God is so gracious and kind to us.
    you can bet i'll be praying!
    xo

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  11. Praying endless prayers for Cory....gotta love a good shakedown. Our last shakedown left us penniless and in a town of less than 10,000 people, and me telling my hubby, to focus on school and run marathons on behalf of starving children. Yeah, there is something about a world flipping upside down to realize what that was right side up all along.

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  12. girl.
    this makes me teary! just because i love to see people that follow so hard after the Lord no matter what that brings them. encouraged by this today.

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  13. This was a beautiful post! Thanks for being willing to take risks in your walk with Christ. God has big things in store for your family. I am glad I came across your blog! Hugs! Heidi

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  14. "I used to clamp my eyes shut through the wild waves of change, just waiting for still waters. Now I live a little seasick, and it feels like a lifeboat." This quote alone could have been a blog post that satisfied me. Hooray for Cory! I love to hear stories of obedience and I celebrate with you as you begin another new adventure.

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  15. Another keeper I need to save and refer back to. Had to share on fb. So excited to hear the news!

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  16. This post breaks me in the best possible way, I cannot contain in my heart the greatfulness I contain in my heart for people like you two who step out of your comfort zone and choose to follow where Christ is leading you even when it's hard. Many a time my mama and my daddy have needed someone to love them within the walls of a jail and they have had chaplins be the only ones in life who lifted them up instead of tearing them down. I am so greatful for the brave souls who choose to love on people this way. Thankyou from te bottom of my heart.

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    Replies
    1. G-friend, thank you so much for sharing this part of your story with us. It feels like an honor. Before all of "this" happened, I prayed so hard that someone would find Robert and Beth inside those walls...someone who could walk through the crap with them and show them real love. That Cory gets to be that person is both overwhelming and humbling. And amazing!

      Much love to you.

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    2. So is Cory working at the same prison Robert is in?

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    3. He'll be working at the county jail where Robert was before he was sent off to prison.

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  17. This post made me want to cry- happy tears! Life is so interesting where it takes us. I'm impressed and feel hopeful when I think of how Cory will definitely be able to do so much good.

    When I finally gave up doing what I thought was correct, appropriate and satisfying to this world- my life changed. I have less, but am so much richer.

    Your whole family inspires me.

    Have salsa.. A wheel of shrimp...a container for Silas? (You had mentioned he was obsessed with them, yes?) and what does Ruby really love??

    Have a great day! Glad your dad is doing well. Xo

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  18. What a post! Thanks for sharing your journey for all the world to see. It is inspiring and encouraging and gives hope. Thank you.

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  19. love this! I am a lil white girl in my mid 20s serving as a substance abuse therapist with the dept of corrections in MI. God works in good and mysterious ways. I am so passionate about serving these men despite our obvious differences...and better yet, I'm good at it!

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  20. GIRL!!!
    get out!!!
    high five cory for me and then give him a proper southern girl hug & tell him i'm praying alright.
    gosh, that's AWESOME!!!!
    he's doing life. just like jesus. seriously.
    xo

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  21. Started praying today. God Bless you guys!

    Jake's a Girl

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  22. I'm so excited. To hear your story, and for the reminder it is of God's story in my own life.

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  23. Definitely praying. This is one of those goose bump posts where God's timing and purpose come together in someone willing. Praying for one of those very chaplains to reach a young cousin who has lived a life of bad choices and needs Jesus SO much. God bless you all as you step out again!

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  24. Hey, gal! This is so exciting! I saw the "pray for my friend" request on Lindsay (B.Smith's) FB profile and had to see what was happening! Praying God's continued blessing on your tribe. Much love to y'all!

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  25. Farmgirl! This is so exciting!
    Goose bumps kind of exciting.
    Hot Rosemary Rolls kind of exciting.
    Industrial size vat of salsa kind of exciting.
    I can keep going if you'd like.
    Pin stripes layered with florals kind of exciting.....

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  26. You two. So faithful and brave and willing. Cheers to this new shake-down! And lots of prayers. xo

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  27. my pops has been a prison chaplain in addition to a church pastor for years. guess which job is his fave :)
    praying for much fruit and beauty in this new chapter!
    love your ready, expectant heart. contagious.

    xoxo

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  28. Such exciting news! Anxious to follow along with your adventure!

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  29. ...you take my breath away...blessings laney

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  30. Good for him. Good for all of you. What more perfect family could've gotten this job? He'll get to see Robert more often. It sounds so IMPORTANT, and it IS.

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    1. Hey, thanks! Just to be clear, Robert is in prison in Michigan City. Cory's working at the Elkhart Co. jail. :)

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  31. I am sorry but who is Robert? I am pretty new to your site, but I really love it and appreciate your wisdom and perspective.
    In so many ways have been on a parallel walk for the past 20 years, walking through marriage, divorce, single parenting two sons, self-employed artist, return to school, lots of work and twists and turns, and having the rug pulled out from beneath you and trying to get past Why God? to What now Lord?.Trusting in his timing as best I can,praying for guidance and direction, hanging on to my faith that He is Sovereign and knows all things.

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    1. I'm sorry! I'm sure the Robert thing IS confusing to a new reader. Robert is our unofficially "adopted" son, who is currently serving time in prison. You can read more about him here (and lots of other places!) http://flowerpatchfarmgirl.blogspot.com/2013/01/born.html

      Thanks for your comment! I'm in the same place -- always trusting and clinging to God's sovereignty. (It totally takes the pressure off!) :)

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  32. That Oswald Chambers quote seems to sum it up perfectly. I will be praying for Cory and for you all. How exciting!

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  33. Text me with prayer requests any time. I've got you all covered so much this week!

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  34. One of the greatest men I ever knew was a chaplain at the prison in Scranton, PA. I miss him.
    Cory is going to make a huge difference. I am thankful for this position he has been given. I will pray for him.

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  36. May God's blessings continue on you and your little family as you live your lives trusting in God who works all things out.

    This is thrilling news about Cory and I am amazed and proud of him and you and I don't even know you personally. But, I've watched your lives these past 2-3 years and have been inspired, encouraged and blessed.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

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  37. praying for Cory and you as he starts this new chapter...so excited for your family.
    You guys are walking in the steps that God has carved out for you, and it's beautiful.

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  38. Wow I can totally relate to the quote by Oswald Chambers. Thanks for sharing!

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  40. I so appreciate this post. It has caused me to reflect on the stretching that God has been doing in our home and, while I'm envious of God enlarging your boundaries with this new job, I'm reflecting on the fact that perhaps God hasn't enlarged ours yet because we/I need to grow in raw faith that willingly endures the stretching. I'm not there yet; but today I have something more to think about. Thank you and God bless you and yours richly.

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  42. "I'm so grateful I was wrong when I thought God's call was a thing worth dreading or that living a life on mission meant probably never being happy." << Me too!

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