By: Angel Bailey
A dear friend of the café started making some beautiful fork pendants recently to help raise money for our Women’s Ministry. He came in one day and showed us a pendant that he had made. Maggie got really excited and asked him to make her one with a spoon, because she’s an ex-heroin addict. He said that he would, but after he got home he was nervous about making it, because he didn’t want it to be used again. As he prayed and pondered, he had the idea to carve a cross through the center of the spoon. It was a beautiful symbol of God‘s redemption and healing from addiction!
Last weekend, Herb and I were in West Virginia doing our Philosophy of Outreach training with a church there. After the service on Sunday, a woman came up to me crying and told me the story of how she lost her son months ago to a heroin overdose. After she left, I remembered that I had brought some of the spoon pendants with me, and I wanted to give her one. I looked all over the church, but couldn’t find her. I went outside and asked if anyone knew where she went, and the pastor‘s wife said, “Oh! She lives just next door!” So I went over, knocked on the door, and she answered and invited me in. I told her the story of the forks, and Maggie's story about the spoon pendant. As I handed her a pendant, she started to cry again, hugged me, and thanked me for giving it to her. When she came back over to the church later for the meal, she was wearing the pendant. I was so thankful that God reminded me that I brought the pendants with me, and that I needed to give her one for her son that she lost. We hear the saying that “everything happens for a reason,” and I totally believe that. God is still teaching me every day to trust Him and to listen for His leading. I’m thankful for Him allowing me to share His love with others.
“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers both autumn and spring rains, as before.” (Joel 2:23)
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten, the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -my great army that I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25)
By: Ferdinando Turkovich
The abundance of the Lord is astounding! As my wife and I enter our first fall season as husband and wife, we have been considering what our present and future roles within our community are and will continue to be. One of those roles we both immediately recognized is to be students. For me, this is to complete the first stages of a process that I started almost 4 years ago. For her it is to begin the process.
Curiously, we found ourselves having a conversation one night that a close friend and mentor had with me. He asked me, “In 5 years, if you don’t start the process where will you be?” My answer to him was, “Right here, complaining about not being any closer to where I want to be.” This was the curious part; when I posed this question to my wife, she had the same answer that I did. So here we find ourselves, one of us somewhere along this well-worn path, the other at the beginning of the forest. Neither of us are really sure where the path will end, however, we do know that we are in this together.
As we walk on this path together, it is impossible for us to neglect our current assignments. For me, it is the men of our Celebrate Recovery group here at the café. These men continue to astound me. They have all embraced the process of being recovered. They have also formed a brotherhood with one another, one that is built on truth and life, instead of the lies and death that we were all once subjected to. Recently one of them was hospitalized. The group decided to hold our Tuesday night meeting in his room. This is being my brother’s keeper.
For my wife, it is her students and the women that God continues to bless her to walk alongside. As we navigate these individual assignments, we cannot help but long for and get excited at the prospects of working together one day in these very areas. It is even interwoven in our individual callings, “To love broken people where they are most broken.”
As I reflect on the last 5 years, I must stop and worship the Lord. Not just for all that He has restored, nor just for this growing hope that is beginning to sprout roots within my life, it is for the years that the locusts have destroyed that I praise Him for. It is for Him showing me that He is and always will be enough, even when I have nothing.
By: Andrenna Williams
As a child, I was always fascinated with the seasons. I had an appreciation for watching the snow fall slowly outside our living room window on chilly winter evenings, hearing the birds chirping and feeling the dew on the grass on early spring mornings, dancing in the summer rain showers with my purple rain boots and smelling the wet asphalt, and sipping hot apple cider on sunny Sunday afternoons in the fall while on family car rides to see the leaves changing their beautiful colors. Even in my young age, I knew that it meant that the current season would only last for awhile, and that soon the next would be here with new beauty for me to admire. I understood that these events were orchestrated by God and that no matter what the new season was to bring, He was in control.
In my adulthood, I still hold that same appreciation for the beauty of the seasons, and have made a conscious effort to pass this on to my children. However, I have lost some of the confidence, joy, expectation, and hope for the next season. Nowadays, the length of the seasons vary. Sometimes they overlap or fail to show up when expected, and are harder to recognize. At some point, life hit hard and a lie crept in, causing me to grow weary, suspicious, and unable to trust that regardless of what trials, obstacles or hardships came, God would not only protect but also provide.
I'm currently going through an unrecognizable, unusually long, difficult, unpleasant, winter-like season. It's confusing, scary, and upsetting. However, I am trusting God for protection and provision. I was always fond of Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future," and believed it to be God's promise of a good life for me. This is true, however there is more. The next 3 verses are what have helped me to understand the true promise. They read:
12 "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
There's not talk of roses and cherries. There's no promise of a "crisis free" existence. There WILL be scary times. I WON'T always have the answers. People WILL disappoint me. Troubles WILL come. BUT GOD...WILL restore me as long as I seek him and abide in Him. No matter what happens, I can trust in Him. And for that reason, I can sit back, relax, and enjoy each season of my life.
By: Lauren Zawatski
Lately, God has been reminding me to wait. It’s a simple concept, something most of us have learned as we’ve grown. From the toddler stages of waiting until after dinner to have that cookie...to the adolescent waiting to finally get to high school...to the young adult frustrated with college, ready to become a part of the “real world...” to the adult, waiting to find a job or to have kids...even to the older adult who is waiting to retire, or to all believers, who eagerly await eternity with Jesus. Waiting is built into every single stage of human life.
I recently read a story, meant to make you say “Awww!” but the Lord dropped some major truth into my heart through it as well. The gist of the story is this: a man does an experiment called the “marshmallow test” with his 3-year-old granddaughter. He offers her, in this case a piece of chocolate, and tells her that if she can wait 10 minutes without eating that chocolate, he’ll give her a second piece. Ten minutes go by and the girl successfully passes the test. Her grandfather gives her the second piece, and instead of eating both she asks him, “Would you like one Grandpa?”
The little girl’s response is adorable, of course, but the Lord highlighted something more to me: waiting produces something lasting inside of us! Sure, when the girl waited those 10 minutes she gained a second piece of chocolate, but she also gained something much more valuable: perseverance. Often, waiting is not an easy task. It takes the gift of perseverance to be able to patiently stand in our moments of waiting - not begrudgingly, but joyfully.
Ultimately, we have a desperate need for perseverance if we’re going to make it through the journey of life. Thus, waiting seasons can truly be a helpful gift from the Lord to us, enabling us to face life with patient endurance. Romans 5:3-4 says, “[...] we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope...” What a treasure! Waiting is not God saying “I’m here to make you squirm and ruin all of your fun...” In reality, we actually gain hope from our waiting. Not just hope for the Lord to break into our situations, or to bless us with something... but true, eternal hope that one day all of our waiting will be worth it, and we’ll get to see Jesus face to face. And this hope? It’ll never put us to shame!
Uncommon Grounds Cafe