January 2007 Update Letter

1/25/07 10:31:13 AM:
Happy January!

It’s a New Year… what do you want to see happen this year? Who do you want to be this year? What memories and experiences do you want to make happen?

We had an interesting way to bring in the New Year, we did a ‘retreat’ and pretended that we were taking the girls to a ‘foreign country’ (we never left the house). It was INTENSE, at one point I played a guard and I went around to each room during shower time to bang on their doors and tell them to hurry up and get out! I scared a lot of them (it helped that I had a cold so my voice was very deep). Our goal was to teach them gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in their lives. It was also intended to shake them up to see how flexible they could be. Some surprised us, some.. well… they’ll learn it eventually! The girls were given a very specific and limited ‘packing’ list, they slept on mattresses on the floor, ate meager meals and… enjoyed most of the ‘journey’.

I’ve had another birthday! Yay! It was a great day! Lots of phone calls and messages from friends and family that love me, THANK YOU! I told the girls here that I was turning 89, because they are not allowed to know our ages, and I needed a number to say that sounded ‘safe’. Hehehee! I worked on my birthday (boo L…) BUT I have Thursday and Friday off so I’m spending the night at an adopted aunt’s house in Palatka, FL (my college roommate Jen’s aunt)! Yay!

I ended up cooking two of the meals on my birthday, and my birthday treat (Rice Krispies)… wow I sound like a mom… hahaha!

Ashley and I will be teaching the girls from the book of Isaiah for the next couple of months, which will be exciting, talking about the different Messianic Prophecies! So much more as well!

I have been spending time in the books of Daniel, Galatians, Ephesians, and Hosea and also some time in the Gospels… Looking at the question, “Who is Jesus to me?” Listening to a sermon series called “Rhythm” by Matt Chandler at The Village Church. I love it how God’s word reads me as I read it. In Daniel I was struck with his obedience, and his humility in going to his superiors. In Galatians… the concept of FREEDOM stood out to me, how many times I abuse my freedom, or take it for granted and don’t live in it, how many times I choose chains, and limit myself. Ephesians… Christ’s love overwhelms me! Hosea… the redeemer, pursuer, relentless lover… 2:14- he takes her out into the wilderness… to the end of herself!

Community, Hermeneutics and Perspective have been major topics for me this month. Through my counseling class and other conversations with people I have seen these topics come up multiple times. (Community) Looking at ‘doing life’ with people, open, honest communication, meant for edification, truly practicing what it means to be the body of Christ. (Hermeneutics) Studying Scripture in its original context, asking the questions… who, what, where, when, why… getting to know the history, the culture, the writer, the audience… and then asking… now, how does this apply to me, and to now? (Perspective) I’m slowly understanding that what I see is only a third of the picture, and actually… less… but follow me here, there’s my side, the other person’s side and God’s side. God’s side is the true perspective, but mine and the other person’s are very real to each of us. Many times, here and even at school my perspective on situations was incomplete and I made decisions based on my current understanding (which is what we do) but as I continue to grow and learn more I’m able to make better decisions because of a new perspective.

I’m still enjoying my counseling classes, the one I’m in right now is Theology, Spirituality and Psychology (or something like that ;)!) So far I’ve been doing well on my assignments AND I’ve been learning more about myself and the Lord, and the people He asks me to serve! I’m almost at the halfway point for this class, and then one more this semester. More than likely I will take the summer off (starting end of April) and then continuing in the fall. At that point (pending passing these two classes) I will have 12 credits toward my MA! Woohoo! The program I’m in officially is a 48 hour program, but if I can afford it financially and if I can endure it patiently, I would really like the 60 hour degree.

This was a REALLY hard month for me. I wanted to walk out the door, call my daddy and ask him to come get me. I was aggressed by one of my girls the second week of January. I even went to the med center to get my elbow x-rayed because of how bruised and swollen my elbow looked (thankfully, it wasn’t broken) I went through an intense questioning God time, asking if I had misunderstood his voice back in March, wondering if here is really where I am supposed to be. I yelled, and I screamed… because I have been pouring my heart, love and life into this girl (and 10 others) and she spit in my face, rejected my love and gave me bruises. Oh the agony Christ must have felt (I saw not even close to a shadow of what he experienced)… He was able to say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” I am not able to do that at this point. I took me about three weeks before I was finally ready to hug the girls again. I still don’t trust essentially any of them, which is strange for me… but I am here to love them for this season, so… I’m purposing in my heart to pour out all Christ pours into me. Serving the unlovable… hmm… sounds like what Christ did. All of this lead to some interesting conversations with my boss about where God is taking me (more to come on that later) and learning how to communicate my thoughts clearly and respectfully. I’m continuing to learn that even those in authority over me have not arrived spiritually, either, they are still learning and growing. Living at peace with all men, as much as possible has taken on a new meaning.

I am so thankful for the lessons and growth this ministry has encouraged, started and continued in me!

Thank you for your continued prayer and encouragement! I love you dearly!

Nicole Elise

P.S. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for more house staff! J

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