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

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


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