Time for a Change

As we approach the time to change our clocks, it is also time to update your feed readers. I have moved my blogging to amandajolley.com. So come on over and make your self at home.

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Adventure lies ahead

amsterdam Or rather, the adventure is laying out now. As I prepare for the Amsterdam Discovery trip, I am already amazed at the growth and stretching that is taking place in my own life.

In celebration, Wendy’s trip costs have been covered by donations, plus she will have just enough extra money to cover the meals and expenses not included in the trip cost.

For my own fundraising, I have been holding classes in my home. So far I’ve taught several soldering classes, and a visual journaling class. I have a couple more classes lined up for the month of October. I’m also selling an Amsterdam soldered pendant from my Etsy shop. Amsterdam Pendant

While all of this is helping to pay for the trip, I’ll be working into 2010 to fully recover the costs.

Here’s what I’m discovering:

  • I love to teach
  • I love to prepare classes
  • I love to get others excited about creativity and expression
  • I am inspired by the uniqueness of each students work
  • I love the relationships that are developing from these classes
  • I feel that I am being prepared for something else
  • I don’t enjoy marketing myself
  • I don’t like collecting money
  • I have a greater respect for all teachers that are prepared and thoughtful about the classes they teach and the time invested to bring the classes together

All in all, I have learned so much by holding the classes, and the experience has affected the vision and goals for my future. Exciting times!

Soldered Jewelry Classes:

Visual Manifesto Journal Classes:

amanda ∞

Amsterdam bound

Amsterdam bound. Yes, I am, thanks to a dear friend who asked if I would join her on the Missions Focused trip with our church. With this trip, we will learn from our pastor, Jeff Adams, who will teach us about the missionary view and cultural sensitivity. I have heard of so many life-changing experiences from those who have attended this trip in past years, both in their worldview and understanding of God’s grace.

My friend, Wendy, has such a huge heart for reaching out to others. I’m sure this trip will be one of great growth for the both of us. I thought of sharing in my own words why this trip will be so amazing, but allowing my friend, Wendy, to share her story with you will be more than I could ever say.

Wendy’s Story:

But by the grace of God…..that is so true to my life.  I had the husband, two children, two new cars, nice house in the suburbs. Then one day it was gone. The marriage was over, husband did not support us and in turn I could not support my children. He also made threats to harm my children, so I had to make one of the hardest choices of my life and place my children in my brother’s home for him to raise them for me.  It was then and still today is the best choice for my children.

So then I had to try life on my own, well I always had God, but I didn’t access Him. I felt unworthy of God and his blessings. So I tried to control my life on my own…and guess what…it spun out of control. I got a great job for a major company making $38K a year. Bought a car and purchased a house. And oh yeah, the man….he promised me so much and gave so little. But I believed he loved me and if I stood by him and trusted him..well,  I thought he would see his own mistakes. He had a gambling problem, drug problem and loved a life of drama.

He introduced me to the world of prostitution. At first he just asked me to come up with catchy little ads to run in the Pitch (a local newspaper here known for its sex ads). Then he would bring young girls home and ask me to talk to them about how to treat a man, to take the street at out of them, and explain to them how much they would receive and why we would keep their money. At first I thought I was helping them, since they all had drug addictions and would sell themselves for a piece of crack. He convinced me that we were showing them how to make more money to help themselves. I would clean them up, get them a nice outfit, new under clothes, shoes, take their pictures and post an ad on the internet. Didn’t take long to realize, they never got ANY of the money and he keep them under control by supplying them with their drug habits. Sure we gave them a place to stay and fed them, but I would soon find out the price they were paying was much higher than money alone.

The girls would all leave after time and next I was hearing how I didn’t try hard enough for our home. Even though I still had my job making $38K, I needed to do more.  So one day I did.  I posted an ad for myself. The phone rang 15 minutes later and I was off to my first “call”. I don’t remember being nervous on the way there. What I do remember was collecting $700 for a little less than two hours of my time. I remember walking out and getting to the car and crying all the way home. And then when I got home he  was absolutely horrible to me. As a matter of fact he beat me the next day, so badly that I couldn’t go on my next “call” for two weeks, because of the bruises and cuts. Well, this became my life…I would go on calls and about every three weeks or so he would go into a rage and beat me. Each time took me to the hospital. Once I came home on crutches, once I was in shock and didn’t know my name, twice I had a broken collar bone, and once I bled until I passed out on my bedroom floor. But I always went back, I mean he would pick me up from the hospital. I can’t explain to you why, but all I wanted to do was go back to him. Twice I did go to a shelter for battered women, but I had him come and get me. I even went to Minnesota to live with my brother for three months, and guess what….that’s right I came home to him again.  And after being home for two months…he had convinced me to start running ads and make him money again. By now the car and been repo’d, the house in foreclosure, and I had been arrested several times because I was taking the fall for him. Well between the second week of Sept to the last week of Nov. I had made over $40K selling myself, but I was getting evicted and never had any money and life just keep spinning.

Then the most amazing thing happened…I was arrested in Wyandotte County for prostitution. It was amazing because now I had a GOOD reason to stop or at least slow down. With all the money I had made he couldn’t even bail me out. I had to call my parents. My dad. I has daddy’s little girl and I had to tell him what I had done. But he loved me. He came and bailed me out. Had to wait seven hours outside the jail for them to release me, but he waited.

The courts had me go to this place called Veronica’s Voice. I had never heard of it and didn’t want to find out either. But it was go there or get a felony conviction for prostitution and go to prison. So I went. At first I hated it. Didn’t talk much and thought I was different. I’m not. Every single women I met there had been molested as a child (like me), been raped (like me) and choose prostitution for survival (like me).  We were all just women broken.  Needing love and support. God had an angel there waiting to reach out and help me. There was this wonderful family there, a mom and her two kids. They came every week to feed us lunch. The meals were incredible. You felt fed with love at the end of each meal. I began asking them questions about different things; cooking, music, art. I discovered that they attend my church. Wow, what are the chances of that? This is when I started to see God’s love for me and he uses everything in your life to bring you back to him and his love. I started going to church again. But this time I started to listen, not just hear. This time was different. This time I heard God answering. Not long after, that man…well he went to prison and within a couple of weeks, I stopped going on “calls”. I started to understand what I was learning in church, and believe it. That amazing mom that once fed me on Fridays..well her name is Amanda, and she began feeding me with God’s word. I became Amanda’s disciple, which was all part of God’s plan for me. I began to grow through Christ and suddenly life looked so different. And the day came when I just trusted the Lord for everything! No more worries. No more stress.  Just grace and mercy and LOVE.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have struggles, big ones even. But now I trust God to see me through them all. God has never lied to me, never let me down and most important…God has NEVER left my side.

I completed my sentence with the courts, but still am very active with Veronica’s Voice, I have a new job in which I get to help young adults with mental illness learn to live independently, I have been part of a documentary on prostitution, I was asked to speak on behalf Veronica’s Voice at a charity function. I have so many blessings in my life that it would take less time to count to stars than my blessings. I have a wonderful relationship with Christ, and I have devoted my life to do His will. God is awesome! Amen.

Over the past year, I have seen Wendy make the most God honoring choices, difficult choices. Her spiritual growth has in turn caused a greater passion and love for God in my own life. While I was supposed to be the mentor in the relationship, Wendy taught me time and time again about total reliance and faith in God’s providence. And she has been so patient, waiting on God’s timing.

Wendy felt very pulled to go on this trip to Amsterdam. When she asked me to go with her, she was confident that God would provide the money. I have no doubt she is right, and no doubt that this trip to Amsterdam is God calling her further into service for him.

The reality of Wendy’s financial state is not bright. She is now working two jobs to not only pay for the trip, but also to continue to stay above water with her daily living expenses. As one can imagine, a woman with a court record does not get paid a large salary. And she recently experienced vandalism to her car costing more financial pressure.

In an effort to help Wendy raise her funds, I have set up a chip in site for those who would like to contribute. All the money contributed will be sent to the church to be applied to her trip costs.

One very exciting side note for the both of us is that we will have the opportunity to work alongside some people in Amsterdam that minister to women caught in the life of prostitution. What a thrilling opportunity to carry on hope with Wendy’s own life story.

amanda ∞

Final cut

From our trip in June, enjoy the video my husband produced for Won By One To Jamaica:

I must agree with Tayler’s ending statement. My experience with Won By One To Jamaica, my time with my Jamaican family in Harmons, has totally changed the direction of my life.

amanda ∞

Senses

leo & helen groff wedding pictureThis afternoon as I tore the lettuce leaves from the bunch and rinsed them in a colander, I was reminded of my grandmother. Was it the sound of the running water, the smell of the fresh lettuce and dirt, or the touch of water and leaf tossed in my hands? So many times I watched in awe as my grandmother so naturally handled culinary tasks, especially with produce from her garden. She peeled and cut potatoes so quickly. I marvelled that she didn’t cut her thumb. She rinsed and shredded and chopped. She boiled and kneaded and rolled. She sweated and labored and smiled. And it all looked so natural, so easy. When we gathered at her table, the whole family, there were so many dishes; vegetables, relishes, bread, butter, pies, and ice cream, truly a feast.

As Thanksgiving approached the first year I was married, we invited my parents to come for a meal since we’d be spending the actual holiday with my in-laws. I was going to serve just a few things, can’t even remember what the meat dish was, meatloaf or roast perhaps, and maybe scalloped potatoes, definitely green bean casserole, the kind with the French Fried onions. What I found so difficult was the timing. I couldn’t manage to get everything cooked and done at the same time. My mother and I laughed at my inexperience.

And today I find myself rinsing lettuce just like Grandma. I have finally arrived. My kitchen skills have become instinctive, intuitive. I thought of how young I was when I watched her, not really helping, neither of us aware that my senses were fully engaged, that I was absorbing her ways…

amanda ∞

Even, my homeless friend

Our friend, Even, stopped by tonight to show us his new bike. He bought it with lottery winnings. My husband wasn’t home, so I sat on the porch this evening and visited with him. He used to live in a group home down the street, and could always be found riding up and down the streets on his bike unless it had been recently stolen.

Even has had a rough life. I won’t go into the details without permission to share his life story, but I will say that he has lived in survival mode most of his days. He’s been homeless before for 8 1/2 years, and has been homeless again for the past year. He is already talking of the upcoming winter. He says that age 52 he doesn’t know how many more winters he can handle living homeless.

Even is not the stereotypical homeless man. He is not a drunk, he refuses handouts, and most definitely doesn’t beg. I can’t even get him to eat here when he stops by. He doesn’t ever want us to feel like he is using us. He lives on the spare jobs he can get here and there, and on his lottery winnings. And he always talks of someday winning big and being able to buy a home.

My friend, Even, is a reminder to me that not everyone is homeless because of drugs or alcohol, or the lack of a desire to work, or whatever stereotypical reason I can throw out there. His life is different. Because of some brain function issues caused by an accident early in life, Even appears quite normal but just can’t work the system. He just can’t quite fit the norm or hold a job for long. He mentions that most 52 year olds have houses and families, and he talks of his survival without a home. He explains his pulley system that allows him to sleep high in the trees in a hammock and pull his bike up with him to keep it safe. He excitedly shares that someone has been letting him sleep on their property in an old bus, and that he just got a solar shower. He talks of bathing in the public restroom at the park and how there just ain’t nothing like a real shower.

Even also shares the very dark side of being homeless and being kicked while sound asleep for no reason, having rocks thrown at him in the night by a drunk man who tells Even his life is worth nothing because he’s homeless, of trying to find work but employers not wanting to hire someone without a city address. Life is hard.

Tonight I rejoice with Even because he has a nice new bike. And I am thankful that I was here this evening when he knocked on the door.  I invited him back for lunch tomorrow so he can show Scott his bike. I hope he comes.

amanda ∞

Summer Self Portrait = Meanderings While Sweating

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I sit in the heat of summer with my familiar perspiration making my face glow. (If only the models would realize that sexy shine comes from SWEAT.) The windows are open this evening, fans pushing air through the house. I have come to love the heat of summer permeating the air of my home. I choose open windows over air conditioning. What began as stubbornness a few years ago has become my preference. I was tired of giving my money to the electric company as their rates continued to rise. Now I am thankful.

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Each day this summer I awaken and run a load of laundry through the washer. Then I retreat to my art studio with espresso in hand. My Bible opens and I soak in God’s amazing and living Word. I feel it penetrate to that inner chamber, that same chamber that was once sealed shut. Now the doors are flung open hungry for more truth, more love, more life. And I am ready for this day ~ whether gladness or suffering comes my way, my foundation is beneath my feet.

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The temperature rises, the laundry flaps and snaps on the line. Through the open windows I can hear the birds, the loud song of the cicada, the poetry of the cottonwood. When I step outside I am not struck by a wave of heat. The warmth of summer has already permeated my home and my bones. The out of doors beckons me. I no longer dread what summer has to offer, but embrace it. As I wash dishes the sweat runs off my head dripping as the steam rises from water. As I pull weeds, the sweat rolls down my chest. Dirt is in my fingernails. Ice cream is prepared, mosquitoes slapped. It is hot. It is summer.

amanda ∞