September 2007 Update Letter

Sent: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 6:36 pm
Subject: September update from Nicole

September started out… still warm! It’s so beautiful watching fall come in slowly… I have some incredible drives I get to make multiple times a week, through all of these beautiful parkways… I love fall colors! and that crisp air feeling… yummy… one of my favorite fall activities is still… (blushing) crunching leaves! I love the sound! Crazy, oh well! In fact, my roommates and I on the first day of fall went to the bank of the James River up near the Blue Ridge Parkway to play in the warm sunshine!

Work- I had a pretty easy first two weeks of the month, not really by choice… one of my client’s parents decided to discontinue services w/ myself and the other therapist in the home… so I had an unplanned ‘vacation’? er? It was an interesting journey, learning about a discharge almost before I’d gotten the groove of working a case… but oh well… on to the next one. My next client seems to be as difficult as the last as far as problems (maybe worse) but his parents are more on board… wh/ is half the battle anyway. I tried a technique called a Sand Tray the other day, and I am so excited to use it with my clients. It feels silly when you first think about it, but it really allows the therapist using it to get a perspective on what is going on inside a client’s mind and emotions.

School- crazy, first huge paper 8-12 on my cultural background and my first quiz in my residential class. I’m beginning to wonder if this was a bigger bite to chew on than I originally planned.. but I’m almost at a loss on how to handle this, because one of the reasons I moved back to Lynchburg is to attend classes in the classroom, but… I don’t know if two residential classes, instead of my current route of one residential (16 wk) and two dlp (8 wk each, one at a time) would be easier or the same level of difficulty.

House- four girls in one home… equals… many opportunities to improve communication skills! Wow, I’m appreciating the passages in Scripture that talk about the home, the necessity for a head of the household, and I’m being challenged in the areas of loving my ‘neighbor’ and servant-leadership… so fun, but… WOW!

Churches- I am still actively looking, I’ve been bouncing around at a few different ones, I’m now in the process of trying different Sunday school classes/community/small groups at some of the ones I feel more drawn to, to determine what will be a good fit.

Friends/Relationships- I am having a blast spending time w/ the people God has placed in my life here in VA, breakfast, dinner, coffee, running, walking, tea, shopping, dropping by… etc… a different take on community than I’ve had before, but still a wonderful blessing.

I finished the book “Community 101” recently, good read, good questions, challenging concept, truly striving to be the body/bride/church of Christ… rather than a hubub of Christian activities.

I’m still leisurely reading through “The Hobbit”. I finished “Smart Women Finish Rich” a definite must read for all of the women who receive my updates! 🙂 I haven’t even thought about what book to start next because my counseling classes have 3 books each!

Sad news: my desktop computer died, I might have mentioned this last month (?), and I’m in the market for a new laptop, but I’m trying to make sure I’m making good financial decisions these days, so I’m not in a rush…

Speaking of financial decisions, the company I work for just set up a retirement plan, so… I opened a retirement account! Whoa, but in the “Smart Women” book… they say you’re never too young to establish a retirement account. All of this is new territory for me, but I’m having a blast learning it all. Not sure what the next step will be… but on to the next part of the journey!

Interesting praise of the month…
my car has been squealing for awhile, and I’ve been putting off getting it fixed b/c of the potential cost… well I finally made the appointment, took it to the dealer and they said it was a belt problem, well my belt had been fixed w/in 10,000 miles… so I was ‘sure’ it wasn’t that… they offered to fix it for… $50, I asked to wait on it, when I went back to the dealership to pick up my car, they told me they had cut off the belt to look at it, so they replaced it w/ a new belt, for FREE! So, no squeal, it cost way less than I was expecting (duh! free is good!) and my car is fixed!

My mom is coming on Thursday and I am mega excited about that!

Further up and further in!

Nicole Elise

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August 2007 Update Letter

“Humphrey, Nicole Elise” wrote:

What a month!

Should I start w/ the good? yes, lets! I started my first residential graduate class on the 21st, I started my 5th DLP course on the 20th… My roommates are incredible women. My parents have been incredibly supportive to me in so many ways, all of my life. My God is bigger and more amazing, and more comforting, and more than willing. The staff at The Madeline Centre have been and are incredible. Every time I mess up or something… I hear, ‘alright, lesson learned for next time’ and we move on. They are so giving and compassionate.

Okay, to be honest, this has been a hard month for me… I’ve encountered a lot of frustrating things… my car needs to be fixed and it looks like it’ll be an expensive fix, it’s drivable, but… it squeals… my desktop computer crashed… my friend is working on data recovery for me… but… looks like I’ll be buying a new laptop beginning of September… I almost had to close a case w/ one of my clients because of resistance (got that resolved! YAY!)… I experienced my first attempt at an ECO (Emergency Confinement Order) where I or my supervisors believe my client’s condition is severe enough to possibly need admittance to the hospital… I locked my keys on the front seat of my car out in Charlotte County… an hour and fifteen minutes away from my spare key…. I got a summer cold or allergies… and probably more 🙂

But I’ve learned a lot through all of this and I’ve been stretched in ways… whoa!
1) My frustrations stem not only from my unmet expectations, but also when I’m doing something that goes against what I value.
2) I’m not in control or responsible for the ‘what if’s’
3) I’m not responsible for anyone else’s growth, choices or responses
4) Community and friendships of all walks are valuable to my health and sanity
5) I prefer a schedule (who is surprised by this great revelation?)

I’m still looking for a church body to join, you’d think, being here in the bible belt… it’d be easy… maybe I’m too picky ?

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel lately, and amazed by my God over and over and over…

I’m still reading The Hobbit… geez you think I have free time? I’m also reading Community 101.

I’ve toured a museum in Danville, VA and learned more about the Civil War.

I’ve been able to do some interesting counseling techniques w/ my clients.

That’s about it for the high lights.

July 2007 Update Letter

Sent: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 2:02 pm
Subject: July Update from Nicole Humphrey

Hello Friends and Family!

Once again… 30 days have FLOWN by! Summer is beginning to wind down… life is speeding up and I’m spinning!  But oh is it FUN!
I officially have 3 clients now. Two girls and one boy. It’s intense. I work w/ each client 10 hours a week, and the two girls are in the same family, so I’m with that family for 20 hours a week. There have been some interesting struggles. It’s a weird mix between, parenting, counseling, nanny-ing, mentoring… etc. Hard cases, hard lifestyles, trauma… but some funny moments as well. I’m learning more about the greater Lynchburg area and that’s been fun. I work almost in Richmond every week, so a lot of driving in my little car, but it’s good.

Speaking of my little car… I’ve been learning the importance of regular maintenance… and get this… I changed my air filter ALL BY MYSELF! I was so proud. I only got a little bit dirty!

I took a Trip to NY for my friend’s wedding. So fun, went into NY city, spent the weekend on Long Island, went swimming in the COLD COLD COLD Atlantic Ocean, enjoyed central Park, AND… the Metropolitan Museum of art… where… I ran into Ken Currel from Kenowa Hills! so crazy! My friend Deirdra and I ate at this fun Italian restaurant, explored the Hershey’s and M&M store… sadly… I always forget about gifts and mementos… and… souvenirs… so… nothing purchased… but MEMORIES! AND Pictures!

School: After taking the summer off… I am registered for 3 classes this fall… I’ll be taking one Distance Learning class per 8 weeks, and one 16 week residential course, so it’ll feel like two classes (I hope). All in an attempt to graduate spring of 2010…. so I’m semi-committed to Lynchburg until then…

Churches: I have been trying almost a different church a week since I’ve been here, there are two that I’ve gone to twice… One is Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church… they have this 8:30 a.m. Celtic service that is phenomenal… the other is Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Luke & Laura, and Nick & Liz attend there, so it’s been fun going to church with them.

House/Roomies: My roommates took vacations the first two weeks of July so I was here by my lonesome, but two of them are back, and we are anticipating the arrival of our fourth very soon.

Way short update this month. But I’m so thankful for your continued prayers and support!

Nicole Humphrey

June 2007 Update Letter

On Sat, 23 Jun 2007 00:56:40 -0400 “Humphrey, Nicole Elise”  writes:

As the world turns… Nicole moves with it… wait… I mean…

Hello from Virginia!

It feels so nice to say that! I’m here, I’m back, I’m settled in.

What has been going on in my life this past month?
I was in Michigan June 1-10, I saw many of you Michigan type people at open houses, weddings, your house or mine and it was GREAT! For those of you I missed, I am very sorry, you’ll just have to come see me in VA or wait until I get home again!

As I said in my May update, most of my time in MI was spent on the shores or waves of Crockery Lake. Skiing, tubing, swimming, tanning, reading etc. I was also able to stain a bridge and a bench for my mom and do some landscaping/gardening projects.

I arrived in Lynchburg, unpacked my car, went to the family’s home where the rest of my stuff was graciously stored, went to the home where a friend gave me some furniture… and dove into unpacking… What an adventure! It all fits and I’m very excited about the sanding/painting/staining project I have ahead of me for this furniture.

I have gone through my orientation, and restraint training at The Madeline Centre. I cannot begin to express to you how relieved my heart is after going through the restraint training. This is the stuff I NEEDED to know when I was working at HH, and based on everything everyone at TMC has said… I wont need to use it here! But praise the Lord at least I know it! My co-workers seem like a great group of people, very fun, enjoying life and knowledgeable about this field.

I’ll be an intensive in-home therapist working with at-risk youth in the greater central Virginia area. The kids will have a wide range of hurts and hang-ups to deal with, but I’m sure the Lord will sustain me and equip me as necessary. I’ll get to work under almost direct supervision of the director of the center and her sister, while spending a couple nights each week in their mother’s home, with these two incredible women. PTL! On the job training in a job that will be very individual and potentially lonely.

I’ve met two of my clients so far and have already logged 17.5 hours with them… in 3 days time. Amazing! We’ve gone fishing (I’ll let those of you who are in shock over this recover…), swimming at a pool, to a baseball game and just “hung out”.
Irony of ironies… I intentionally picked a fishing pole w/ a very large hook… with no worm… for a pond stocked w/ blue gills…
WE CAUGHT A FISH! No joke… I was in shock…
Thankfully this big strong man… er… 10 year old boy who was small for his age… came to my rescue and took the fish off the hook.

One of my current goals includes learning about and starting to do some kind of investing… fun-scary! If you have any expertise or experience or suggestions in this area, I’d love to hear it.
I’m interested in money market mutual funds and the stock market…or… anything.
I’m still reading a book called “Smart Women Finish Rich” (they recommend reading it twice) and I’m learning a lot… book-wise… now I just need some actual practical experience.

That’s all for now, what’s going on in your life/area of the world?

April 2007 Update Letter

Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:09 PM
Subject: April Update from Nicole Humphrey

Happy End of April, almost May!

Praise the Lord, this month has flown by, usually, I prefer to savor moments and enjoy each day, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve wanted this month to fly by.

As usual… I get my own plans in mind and predetermine how I want things to go… and then my wonderful Heavenly Father says, “Nicole, move out of my way… this is how it’s going to be!” Originally, I had wanted to wait until the middle or end of the month of April to let my work know my departure date, I had given them essentially 5 months notice back in January, that I was done… but I have been praying about when to tell them the actual date. I had originally settled on the first week of April, BUT THEN! We started preparation for our Parent/Daughter Seminar Weekend (more on that later) which is a highly demanding and emotional planning time, so I decided to wait… BUT THEN… on Tuesday, my boss sat Ashley (my co-worker) and I down… to confront me… apparently Ashley had been upset with me (and justifiably so) about my leaving, but was trying to avoid talking about it, so my boss took it upon herself to inform me of this… Ashley and I were then able to work things out, clear the air, apologize and forgive each other… but the kicker on this whole thing is… when Ashley stepped away for a short moment, my boss turned to me and said, “I’m just going to bluntly ask you, when’s your last day?” (I was shocked!) I calmly informed her… May 12.. and she said okay… We then talked about my future plans (which are still up in the air, but I do have some direction) and then Ashley came back. Ms. Sandra shared this information with Ms. Carol Lynne (executive director) and although neither of them (or anyone else) want me to leave, they are willing to graciously let me go. I also finally had my “90 day evaluation” (yes… I’ve been here for over 10 months). That was interesting, to hear their perception of me. I am very thankful for the lessons God has brought to me through this ministry. I will definitely miss the girls, but as I’ve thought through this many times, there really is no “good” time to leave a place like this, because I am walking out of lives.

Parent/Daughter Seminar- was incredible. The parents have hope that their daughters can change and that eventually they will be a family unit again and enjoy each other’s company. The girls served their parents dinner, put on a drama and sang Friday night. Then on Saturday the parents sat through a John Rosmond video on “parenting the strong willed child”, the girls were taught about obedience by Ms. Ashley and myself. On Sunday we all went to church together and finished with a nice lunch.

Interesting news of the month… I went to a Slavic Bible School to meet some Russian and Ukrainian girls who want to volunteer at Hosanna House. The school is set up similar to Word of Life or New Tribes where they are in the Word for 6-8 hours a day and then they go “be a missionary”! (Singing the song currently… join me if you know it! Hahaha!)

Big news of the month…. I BOUGHT MY FIRST CAR! A nice, practical, sensible car… but it’ll get me from point A to point B right? It is a 2004 Nissan Sentra, tan-ish-gray in color… I’ll have to go with the “fun” kind of car next time! Interesting experience, this process of buying a car… I love growing up, I really do! I tried my hand at haggling over the price of a car… what fun! Then the ‘yucky’ parts… figuring out insurance, getting the car registered… spending way too much money on that knowing I’m going to have to do it all over again in the wonderful state of Virginia when I move there! Oh well… that’s what I get for being a continental traveler huh?!

We had another resident leave, the last day of March so I’m telling you about it now. She was quite the interesting case in her own way as well (I think I say that about all of them). As far as we know, surprisingly, she’s doing well. She hasn’t had any major conflicts with her parents, she acquired a job working fast food and is living under their roof peacefully. So we are down to 9 now, part of me wonders if the Lord is thinning them out because I’m leaving… and another part of me realizes I’m not that important!

I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah and Romans, and going through an incredible study on “The Cross”. I’ve also been digging into this idea/concept/reality of liberties, freedom and the law… The texts that have been key in this study are Romans 6-8, Gal 4:-5:7, 1 Thess 5:21-22 and 1 Cor 6:12-20. Firming in my mind more who I am in Christ, and what my purpose is… as well as surrendering more and more to His Lordship in my life.

I’ve read: “The Abolition of Man,” and I’m still working on “That Hideous Strength” by C.S. Lewis, I’m also still working on “The Wind in the Willows” by Grahame, and “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach just for fun.

I re-watched Anne of Green Gables (all 6 parts, VHS) this month

I finished COUN 507, my fourth grad class, April 22, now I get to take a break until August! Hallelujah! Did you hear me yell that day in glee that I was finished? I’ll find out my grade after Friday.

So what’s going on in your life?
If you’re in VA… I’d love to get together with you when I’m there the 13th-20th…. or when I move back on a TBA date…
If you’re in MI… I’d love to get together with you while I’m there May 20th-??? 🙂

Nicole Elise

March 2007 Update Letter

Humphrey, Nicole Elise” wrote:

In like a Lion, out like a lamb…. in weather… among other things!

I’m looking forward to April showers to do some more running. I love running in the rain, specifically warm rain! Apparently, my pride in my excitement toward running (from last month’s email) led me to a “fall”. Shortly after I hit send on the last email, I went running and lightly injured my Achilles tendon (I say lightly, because I’m stubborn). I endured a goofy walk for two days and then had to take a two week break from running to let it heal. I’m starting back up with running again, but not pushing as hard, as fast! My goal is to run a race, a five miler, in July (WAY HOT) in Virginia with one of my friends that I graduated with.

The resident I told you about last month… did indeed leave HH on her birthday… what a wild ride she has ahead of her, but she’s in the Lord’s hands and He knows exactly how to break her to remake her! 🙂 (Sorry for the cliché!) The fall-out we expected from her departure did not happen, which has been a blessing. The rest of the girls have sobered a bit, realizing that their choices may land them in the same predicament, of 18 years old… no where to call home, because they are unwilling to live under their parent’s authority.

In other HH news… March is vaccination and de-worming month for our animals… since I am the “animal’s staff” I got to witness/participate in this process… I have decided, I am not a farm girl… at all… not even a little… I’m okay with gardening, and I LOVE fresh produce… but livestock… nah!

The girl who aggressed me back in January had another aggressive outburst this month, the duration of this one in length of days was longer, thankfully I was blessed to avoid the physical violence aspect, I did however endure the verbal outburst… It’s quite taxing to be thoroughly cursed at and listen to attempts at provocation… and still work at loving her. I know the authority she is rejecting is not me, but God. I know that many times, I too fight God’s authority. I’ve been contemplating Romans 6-8 for most of this month, reading, and re-reading it, reading commentaries on it. I keep coming back to the verse, “Oh wretched [woman] that I am, who will free me from this body of death?” Why do I not “Throw off the weight that so easily entangles me?” Why do I not live in the “freedom that Christ has set me free in”? Why do I not “stand firm, and not be subject to a yoke of slavery”? And then the other lesson I’m still grasping… I have this girl here, and for the past 9 months I’ve repeated the word “Listen” more times than I really want to count… I was thinking the other day, how many times does God have to repeat this to me, “Listen, Nicole”? How many times does He have to repeat Himself to me? She has been a thorn in the flesh for 9 months… I pray I learn the lesson well and am able to grow from it.

My COUN 506 class ended well, and my COUN 507 class has begun… eh… interestingly. It’s Theology and Spirituality in Counseling… and so far, I’m not too impressed with it. The first three of my textbooks have been poorly written, and frustrating in their lack of academic excellence and relevancy. My professor has been very understanding about the majority of the classes’ lack of familiarity with online course work, but, it’s not her course, she’s an associate professor, so she isn’t customizing it to her tastes, she’s respecting the course creator’s standards, which leads to difficulties in knowing what she wants from us as students. The fourth book “Hurt People Hurt People” was excellent! And the fifth book I start today… is “Boundaries in Marriage” by Dr.’s Cloud and Townsend… I have mixed emotions about reading a book on marriage at this current time of my life… 🙂

Plans are moving forward for my departure from HH and relocation to Lynchburg! My countdown is getting lower every day! I’m at 7 weeks now! Please continue to pray for more staff for HH as the Lord wills. I know that I am to leave here, but it does weigh on my heart that my leaving creates a more intense work load for everyone remaining here. I truly do love the girls here, in spite of the bruises, loss of sleep, loss of appetite and crazy schedule :). Praise the Lord these last few weeks appear as though He is equipping me to finish strong, to pour out into these young women everything that has been poured into me over the years. Thank you THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who has been instrumental in shaping me as iron sharpens iron!

I’m still looking for a car, vacillating between purchasing one down here or in VA, or in MI… I’ve never purchased a car before and researching it, researching cars, test driving, thinking about insurance, how much I can afford are all new territory to me, slightly overwhelming. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to manage this long without needing a vehicle, and I’m definitely looking forward to having a vehicle, but I’m totally wishing someone else could go through this process for me 🙂 (yes, I’m getting cold feet!)

My casual reading list this month has included… “Mere Christianity” and “Out of the Silent Planet” by C.S. Lewis. He is definitely at the top of my favorite authors list!

Genuinely from my heart, I leave you with my update of the month!

Nicole Elise

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