I was 18 years old when I ran into a brick wall. His name was Jesus, He was that brick wall i ran into when I couldn't run anymore. About that time I also started having panic attacks. And so because I had no idea what was happening to me I went to a counselor. Panic attacks were NOT a thing then, and if anyone had them they did not talk about it.
The first question the scary, distracted, old guy with the scary, bushy, old guy eyebrows counselor, did I mention scary, asked me was, "Does God speak to you?" And me. "YES. YES, HE does.” I mentioned the brick wall and Jesus, right? And since he did not really ask "do you hear voices coming out of the sky”, that kind of does God speak to you, which I was not hearing in case that makes any of you feel better about the rest of this story. It turns out that this was a trick question and YES was NOT a good answer because back in the day if God spoke to you it turns out they thought you were just a little Cray-Cray. Yes, Crazy with a capital C.
Sometimes God scares me. Like horses scary, and airplanes scary, and most things that are bigger than me scary. And sometimes you have these thoughts. Dreams. Prayers. Crazy thoughts. You look at your community and see some things. Some big gaping hole needs and you think, just quietly to yourself at first, "God, you really need to do something about this big gaping hole need in my town, or someone needs to do something”.
And somewhere deep inside you there comes this little whisper and you hear it in your heart. Not some voice out of the sky, people, but this little matter of fact God speaking whisper.
Remember the movie The Horse Whisperer? And Robert Redford just whispered to those wild, crazy, unbroken horses that are a little like us, well, a lot like me, I won’t speak for you. YES, that kind of whisper, the God kind of whisper that breaks you all up inside, just breaks up all those hard as stone places into tiny little pieces.
That’s when you know the God- Whisperer has struck again and He says something like, “Yes, we do need to do something!”
And you say, “What do you mean we?” And He says” We. Like us. Me. you. Others. Us. It's the way I do things remember? Together.”
And so you, because you are just a little crazy like that say, OK. And How? And who? . And you start talking to other just slightly off the beam folks like yourself and they've been hearing the God- Whisperer too!
And then doors, crazy, impossible doors start to open. And you start to think. Hmmmm… Maybe this is not one of those crazy pepperoni pizza dreams you have in the middle of the night.
Maybe it's one of THOSE dreams… Those GOD-SIZED dreams. And then more crazy wild doors start to open.
And it's just scary folks. Just plain old Roller Coaster Ride. Woohoo… Yikes… Way Bigger Than You Are. Scary.
Some of you all are familiar with those words. We said those words a lot when we started Hopesprings. You see a need and think somebody ought to do something about that. And maybe you mention something to God and a few friends. And then the God- Whisperer whispers to you, I want you to do something about it. And you look around to see who He could possibly be talking to because you know He can’t mean you. But he does, because that's just the way He is. He likes to do big things with little people.
Well, one of those doors opened last October and Carol Andersen and I got scholarships to go visit Thistle Farms in Nashville. Thistle Farms is a transitional home for women. It is this amazing place that gives women who have been abused or addicted or on the streets, or sometimes all of the above, a place to live for two years helps them find meaningful work and a second chance.
I did mention gaping-hole needs in our community didn't I? Well, the lack of a place like this here is one of them.
Thistle Farms has this great 2-year model and they are so generous that they actually share it with other people who have the same needs in their communities. So Carol and I were given a scholarship to go to their yearly learning experience.
Ok. I'll admit. We sort of begged. Well. Not sort of, we begged. We begged. Really, it was Carol who begged. Have you met my friend Carol? She's shameless, especially when she sees a big gaping hole need in our community and the God- whisperer starts speaking to her. I just really like that about her. So, I just cheered her on and said crazy things like" I think they are going to give us scholarships". And I prayed and I lit Thistle Farm candles that my friends Jana and Rob brought back from their honeymoon, which they spent working at Thistle Farms…Yeah..i have crazy friends like that…
And said things like "it is the Jesus way to keep knocking and keep asking". Right? . And it worked! Scholarships!!!! And talk about inspired…We came home just ready for some rabble- rousing on the streets of Bangor …
Last year the director of PATH came to talk to us at Connections for Women. She told us that PATH , transitional homes for women in Stroudsburg, was born out of the dream of a bunch of 70 year old church ladies.
(I think that's what THE BOOK means when it talks about your old men and women dreaming dreams.)
These God- Whisperer listening rabble-rousing church ladies saw a gaping-hole need in their community and did what it took to get her done.
And folks, I knew two women who went to India after they retired and were there fixing gaping hole needs with God well into their 90's.
And we are not there yet folks. Some of us are farther along than you young things but young or old we have this day to listen, to dream and to hear what the God-Whisperer is saying and to have our hearts break for what breaks His heart. .
So my crazy friends last October Carol and I hopped on a big scary plane to Nashville, the land where the guitar picks are the size of street signs. We heard lots of stories from the good folks at Thistle Farms.
And we saw with our own eyes The Still that turned lives around the second time the way God does things. .
Becca Stevens, the founder of Thistle Farms tells one of my favorite stories about how the first thing they decided to do to help the women have meaningful work was to make healing oils and sacred oils for churches. And of course the first thing they had to buy was a still to press the oils. So the same kind of still that made the alcohol that used to keep them from being free and whole, that same kind of still, was now being used to make these sacred oils to help them and others to find freedom and meaningful work. And now that still is used to make lots of lotions and products and continues to provide jobs for these amazing ladies.
I don't know about you but when God turns people's lives and the enemies mayhem in them upside down like that I want to shout and do a happy dance.
So since October Carol and I and others have been working and planning and some of you all have been helping and working and planning and crazy wild eyed dreaming to bring the Thistle Farms model right here to the Slate Belt.
And the great people on the board of Connections for Women ( Lorna and Sallianne and Debby) and the faithful friends of Connections for Women ( so many beautiful ones) have been helping and working and planning. And YOU, lots of you are praying about the part God might be whispering to you to play in this crazy God - sized, way bigger than us, dream for our neighborhood.
So here we are ready to do some Rabble- rousing pot- stirring mischief-making for the kingdom of God all of us.
And I'm really excited to say and many of you might have noticed but the first step in this process has been the opening up of Bloom Creative Studio in downtown Bangor. It's a place where we hope art will be a part of healing for many women. And for kids. And students And fun. We've got parties happening. Paint parties. Kids art-themed parties. And pottery parties soon to come. (If you have a kiln or want to donate to the cause contact Carol)
Did I mention all the profits from Bloom Creative Studio will go towards supporting housing and programming for women who need a second chance to get back on their feet? Isn't that brilliant!!!
Bloom Creative Studio will also be a place where these women can learn business skills and job training.
So my friends these are our first steps and we have so much further to go. If the God -Whisperer has caught your attention today we would invite you to hop on this crazy train ride with us.
Becca Stevens( I am such a fan-girl) says, “No woman went to the streets by herself. It took a community, a whole broken community; to help her get there and it will take a whole community to help her come home to healing.
And so my friends… Are you crazy enough to believe that we yes You and Me…WE. Can be THAT kind of community. The kind of community that helps people come home to healing? I think maybe some of you are that crazy. And maybe, as they say at Thistle Farms, right here in our community we can be proof of the fact that LOVE really Is the most powerful force for change in the world.
For more info check out Bloom Creative Studio online or on Facebook to book a party or see what's going on or to see how you might be able to help. www.bloomcreativestudio.org. Or message firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact me here…
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