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

October 2006 Update Letter

Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:29 PM
Subject: October Update from Nicole Humphrey

Thank you for being a part of my life, even from far away.

I’m always amazed at how time flies down here. I’ve been here for more than four months now folks…
I needed some variety in my life so I got my hair cut… (insert photo) and I went out to the Atlantic Ocean for a quiet time to watch the sunrise so that’s the other pic. (insert photo) Growing up in GR I saw a lot of sunsets… but not many sunrises.

We’re requesting that the Lord of the Harvest send out workers into this field. Please join our petition for two teachers (one teacher, one assistant) and two more house staff. If you know of someone willing to serve the Lord in Jacksonville, FL that enjoys or is willing to work with extreme teenage girls… I’ll tell you where to send the resume. (We had one teacher and she was in and out within a week…) You know, I never really imagined I would be a missionary in this country… but I am… we’re praying for salvation for a few of our girls.

One girl specifically is heavy on our hearts her initials are AW and she’s 17 years old. She’s living in denial, she’s lying to herself about why she’s here, she’s been here for a year and we’ve seen no progress.

We’ve had another one of our residents leave and received a new girl so we are still at 11 girls. The attitude around the house these days is pretty calm. (PTL!) One of our fourteen year olds decided she would play a practical joke the other day and pretend her elbow was dislocated… that was quite the adventure. She got a verbal rebuke from one of her ‘sisters’ and then the punishment from the staff… it was beautiful, we serve a very creative God… she had to wear a sling on the arm she ‘joked’ about and she had to do her chores which is cleaning the hallway and bathroom with one arm… J

A few weeks ago we had the privilege of going to the Big Daddy Weave and Mark Schultz “Broken and Beautiful” tour… It was a very sweet, time of worship. So if that tour comes your way… I endorse it. BDW has a great song out right now called “Every Time I Breathe” (AMAZING).

I have finished my first counseling class (for my masters) and I’m starting the second one. I haven’t received the final grade yet…

My favorite chapter out of my counseling textbook was the epilogue, written to shepherd counselors. I used it and Twelve Ordinary Men (MacArthur) for a devo for our staff meeting on Tuesday. I shared what God has been teaching me about restraint. Mostly through rebuke, but also gently through these two books. It’s scary when you realize a lesson you ‘were supposed to learn’ earlier in life reappears, “second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse…”

My final piece of news for this email is that… our executive director and her husband celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary the beginning of this month. We had a beautiful celebration with them. In our dining room we created the beach house restaurant. The girls got to try their hand at ‘waitressing’ and ‘hosting.’ Then we played games in the living room. SO FUN. Teaching these children how to have a childhood is a heartbreaking endeavor.

In His Arms,
Nicole Elise

September 2006 Update Letter

Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 2:17 PM
Subject: September 2006 Update from Nicole Humphrey

Hello!

I have been through a busy month!

We have had one young woman come to HH to apply for the position of house staff… she was here for a week before she realized that this is not the place God has for her right now. She’s dealing with a lot of grief right now in her life and isn’t emotionally healthy enough to handle the drama our girls produce. Please lift her up in your prayers, her name is Elizabeth. This means… we are still praying for more house staff. We would like two more women to come and join our work. The first weekend in October we will have a young woman named Tiffany come to interview, please pray for us as staff and her that God will make it very clear to all if she is the right fit.

During the week that she (Elizabeth) was here I was asked to ‘semi-officially’ step into the position as lead house staff. I know that I said in my last letter that I am the lead house staff… but… that information was incorrect, I have not officially been given this title (I still get the responsibility of it… hmmm…). It was a very intense week for me because I had the responsibility of training a new staff member while still carrying through with my responsibility as house staff.

We also found out at our staff meeting on Tuesday that our teacher who has been here for 3 years will be leaving us because her husband has to relocate for a job. That means… we are praying for a new head teacher AND still praying for a teacher’s assistant. We know that God is preparing hearts right now to come fill these positions. We are praying for the strength to endure the strain the short-staff situation is causing.

This past weekend we had a “Home Visit” weekend. Our girls earn different types of ‘home visits’ based on behavior, anything from a few hours on the property with their parents to three days and two nights away from our property. One of our girls’ mother decided that she would remove her daughter from our program after their visit together. This news was very hard to take emotionally because this mother-daughter relationship is still very unhealthy. The girl was not at a point where we were comfortable recommending her to leave (that’s the healthy way we terminate a girl from the program). Please pray for this mother-daughter relationship and that the girl is able to remember what she has been taught in our care.

There’s the very real possibility that we may be adding two more girls to our number within this next month, which will be very exciting! I was privileged to sit in on the interview with the parents. Before a new girl comes to our program the girl’s parents tour our home and explain to my boss Ms. Sandra why they feel their daughter needs to come to HH.

This past month I have also had the privilege of sitting in on two parent-daughter counseling sessions. We bring the parents of each of our girls in about two times a year. The parents sit down with either Ms. Carol Lynne and Ms. Sandra or Ms. Sandra and myself and discuss the reason they sent their daughter to the program, how their daughter has improved, the areas their daughter still needs to change and our plan of action as staff. Then, their daughter is brought in and encouraged to be open and honest with her parents. Usually these sessions are very emotional for all parties involved, but the changes we witness in the girls and the relationship they have with their parents is a beautiful God-thing. We truly are being used by God to restore the hearts of the children to their parents (Mal 4:6). I know it sounds weird that this is happening away from their parents, but it IS! We know as staff that these girls are not ours, they are God’s, they belong to Him. After God, their loyalty is to be to their parents and then staff. We love them, but they are not ours to keep.

All of the girls are currently memorizing Rom 6 and Is 40 so we as staff are also memorizing these passages… It has been hard but my memorization skills are slowly returning. These are both beautiful passages to know! So I am thankful for the challenge.

This is getting long… but I thank you for your prayers and encouragement.
I welcome any questions and replies.

His faithful servant,
Nicole Elise

August 2006 Update Letter

Date: 2006/08/30 Wed AM 10:20:13
Subject: August Update from Nicole Humphrey

Hello Friends and Family!

I’m begining to feel as though every time I send you an email something major changes in this house. 🙂 I wrote last time and told you that we hired a new staff named Ashley, she has been great, she’s very upfront and straight forward with the girls! She has been here a month already, so she has been learning a lot! We found out that the lead house staff Teri is resigning, her last day is Aug 31, which means as of Sept 1 I am lead house staff. I’m not exactly sure what this changes, because I’ll techincally still be in my probationary period. For the most part it means more responsibility, a higher level of accountability and that I have the most seniority (by a month). Teri actually left on Tuesday Aug 29, it was eaiser that way for all parties involved.

The girls were told last night and some of them cried, but most of them are so self-centered and self-focused that they really expressed no emotion. It was interesting though to watch their reactions. Two of the girls really blessed our hearts by expressing their appreciation to the staff still here.

Also, since writing last we have acquired internet at our house which is a great blessing because Monday Aug 21 I started my first Distance Learning class through Liberty University! It is the first step in the MA in Professional Counseling degree. I’m praying about changing degrees though. I’m looking at the Masters of Arts in Religion with a concentration in Counseling. My two classes that I’m registered for this semester should slide right into that program as electives. The reason I’m contemplating this is I’m not quite sure if I still want my license in counseling. I know that I really want more Bible classes. Because I “rushed” through my undergrad I didn’t really have the opportunity to take electives and therefore I missed out on a lot of great classes.

My class has been going well so far, I’m not feeling overwhelmed. I have a ton of reading to do in my “spare” time, you know between midnight and 6 am, and I’ve met the deadlines on my first two assignments, but we’ll see how it goes, I have two pretty significant sized papers to write. (Please pray!)

On the lighter side… we walked out our door the other day and there was a snake wrapped around the banister… Ashley walked out first and saw it on her way down the steps, she ran as far as she could get away from it, Teri was trying to figure out if she should go out through the back door and I ran to get my camera. It turned out to be a Rat Snake which means it eats rats, so it was a “good snake”, but because Ashley was so scared by it, Papa Roger killed it. Oh well, I got pictures. We also have banana spiders on our back porch, they are HUGE and yellow and black… incredible.

I miss you! I’m learning dependence on God for so many things, I know that I’m up for some hard lessons during this season of my life, I do thank each of you for the role you’ve played in my life. 🙂

July 2006 Update Letter

Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 8:21 PM
Subject: July Update from Nicole Humphrey

Hello Friends and Family!

I have made it to day number….37!!! I can NOT even believe it has been this long! In some ways I feel as though I arrived here yesterday, in others… I feel as though I’ve been here for years! God has been blessing me in some INCREDIBLE ways.

Books: Recently I’ve read Pursuit of Holiness, SO INCREDIBLE… definte kick in the butt!
READ IT!!! Next I’ll read A Full Quiver or 12 Ordinary Men (They are on my staff reading list).

Staff: Last night our new staff Ashley started working, she’ll have a full week this week as we are doing BASIC Youth Conflicts, all day long! So please pray for her. God has been working in my heart in a very powerful way through this conference (we’re watching the videos of the conference). Miss Kallie’s (intern) last day is Aug 5, so I’ll be loosing a co-worker and friend then 😦 pretty sad about that, but I know God is getting someone else ready for us!

Girls:
Two or Three weeks ago (the days are fuzzy) we got a new resident. She has provided many humorous moments, all of the girls try different games to see what our boundaries are as staff and this one wanted to play the “Hypochondria Game,” it turned into a guessing game for the staff, we tried to predict what pain she would come to us with 🙂 Please pray for her to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, she claims a “salvation experience” but her life is talking louder, against her.

I had my first physical altercation yesterday… I’m totally okay, just a small bump on my head from an ironing board… forgot to make sure the environment was safe… I’ve learned my lesson. The girl made a threatening motion physically so she needed restrained. This specific girl has been dealing with a lot of JUNK and spiritual warfare.

One of my co-workers (and friend) and I went to Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure on Thursday, wicked expensive, we definitely learned our lesson about purchasing the tickets ahead of time online, and now that I have a FL drivers license I would definitely make sure I get that discount. So… I got to ride Deulling Dragons (my new favorite coaster) and The HULK… absoulutely awesome! We were in the front for both rides!!!!

Well I need to go home and rest! So I’ll leave you all with that… If you have any questions I’d love to hear from you… I feel like I live, sleep, eat, and breathe teenage girls, so variety and balance would be nice 🙂

Please keep praying for me, I feel like each day is a Spiritual Battle, but I’m confident that the Battle belongs to the Lord and that He has already won!

May 2006 Update Letter

Hello Friends and Family,

I’m in Michigan until June 16!!!

My last week of classes ended smoothly and final exams went well. I was able to graduate Summa Cum Laude (yea I’m bragging 🙂 I’m very excited :))!

My mom and dad came down to Lynchburg to come get me. We had quite the adventure. On Saturday after graduation, my dad and I went to pick up the u-haul, only the original location of the uhaul had changed two months before (unbeknownst to me!). My dad and I ended up going to downtown Lynchburg to pick up the trailer. We had fun. 🙂 Loaded the trailer, had lunch at my friend Angela’s house (we ate those life-altering-ribs I mentioned in a previous email) and hit the road :).

My brother wouldn’t let me share his graduation party (and call it my college graduation party!), but I still had fun visiting with everyone that came to his party :).

I have a few more open houses to go to and two weddings before I move to Florida.

At this point I’m planning on starting distance learning classes at LU this fall. I’ll try one class for the fall semester and see how I feel about it, before I make the decision to take any more classes.

My mom had surgery, it went well, I’m her care giver this week 🙂 Chief cook and bottle washer, as well as maid, but that’s part of being a family member. 🙂

The rest of my time will include: spending time with the siblings, catching up on life, shopping, driving and any other fun activities.

It looks like we will be moving while I’m at home!! Learning how to live on a lake will be a fun new adventure. Hopefully, I’ll get some time on the wave runners before I move :).

Surprise: I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past two weeks. As well as watching movies. I finally read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I LOVED IT!!! I’m ready to start the next one. I’m currently working my way through an autobiography on a Korean Christian who faced persecution by Japanese, The Man in the Iron Mask by Dumas, and the book of Luke in the Bible. I’ve read the two latest by Lori Wick (I was really behind) and Dee Henderson’s latest. I also read an odd biography called Harriet Beecher Stowe Had a Husband, it was stories about 5 Christian couples.

I finally saw the movie Braveheart, except for a few scenes, and the fact that I fast-forwarded through the grotesque violence, I LOVED IT! Bravery, courage, freedom, passion, fighting for a cause, a small romance, a non-happily-ever-after story, WOW!

I’ve also been catching up on TV shows, I haven’t missed much, but I am enjoying the new commercials 🙂

If you are in GR as well, I’d love to get together with you for coffee, dessert, lunch, shopping, brunch, basically any excuse to talk, catch up and visit. Send me an email or give me a call 🙂

April 2006 Update Letter

Well Family and Friends…
This is my last email AS a college senior… my May update will be as a college graduate! Whoop-whoop!
I can hardly believe how time has flown… Guess that’s what happens when you skip a year. Silly me…
This past month has been full and exciting!

I volunteered at a Soup Kitchen in downtown Lynchburg, and it was a neat experience(!), both the people who worked there and those who came to eat were fascinating. I met a girl from Germany named Jessica, she was here with a group of students to study religion and Christianity in America. If you remember her in your prayers I’d appreciate it, she is unsaved and has a lot of head knowledge now about Christianity but seemed to have no desire to know Christ.

April 22 was the Junior/Senior Banquet here at LU. It’s our alternative to a formal dance. It was fun, they did a mock “tonight show” and I looked really pretty because my roomie did my hair, nails and make-up.

On the 13th I went to a Seder which is the Passover feast Jews celebrate. It was beautiful/humbling/inspiring to worship Christ in a different way by partaking in that ceremony.

I celebrated Easter weekend with my friend Angela and her family, I had some life-altering-ribs.

Babysitting: I started babysitting for another family, two boys, they are absolutely adorable. I could kidnap them, except for the fact that I have no way of supporting them, and I couldn’t take them from a healthy home life!

Thesis- IT IS FINISHED!!! 38 pages, Impact of Premarital Preparation Programs. I’m so excited. It’s my “graduating with honors” requirement, so now I get to wear a big medal at graduation.

Classes- I gave two 45 min presentations about Deindividuation (mob mentality, trading individual identity for a social identity). Basically I’m done until exam week, I have an exam each day at sporadic times so that’ll be fun!

I’m looking forward to coming home!!! Seeing family and friends, playing on the lake… by golly if it’s not warm I’m wearing a wet suit!

I’m so excited about this next phase of my life. A little nostalgia has set in about no longer being a kid, but I’ll get over it when reality hits.

I’ve been reading through proverbs and Matthew in my quiet times. I love watching Jesus interact with people and the way he ministered to each person individually. Something that struck me in Mathew last night was the way the crowds wanted physical healing but weren’t in search of a savior for their souls.

I can’t think of anything else to share at this moment… see some of you soon!