Saturday, January 11, 2014

Restoration House on Broadway

               I believe that when we engage in a relationship with Jesus, we cannot expect him to do everything for us and if we do things just right –somehow Jeremiah 29:11’s great plan is magically sparked and instantly Jesus will usher us into.   I used to believe this way, that we have no control over what happens and God has all the control.  Over my journey with Jesus, I’ve come to realize that the problem of him not answering my prayers and feeling alone has very much to do with my misunderstanding of how I am to interact with him and what He wants with me.  He wants me to participate with Him, he wants to do life together, to create together with him, and with others.  He wants me to understand that I do have more control over what happens than I thought I did and I don’t have to pray in a structured devotional time every day or more than once a day out of fear of missing it.  It's okay to have devotional times, I'm only saying I don't fear having it or not having it any more. I am not afraid of connecting with God through new means now. And for me, prayer is no longer a quiet time, devotional time, whatever you want to call it that I have to be religious about keeping, For me, it’s ALL the time.  

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

               I am NEVER alone, I cannot be alone because Christ is always within me.  He and I are inseparable.  My thoughts and internal ponderings and questions and even my conversations with my children, husband, & friends –these are all prayers because Jesus is always speaking to me, listening to me, always moving my heart, He is with me always, even to the end of the age.  I don’t have to try so hard to connect with him and worry about not connecting with Him enough: I have come to think that is a silly idea because He says I am always connected to him, nothing can separate me from His love.  I don’t have to be afraid and always be trying so hard.  I am enough for Him, and He is enough for me, and I can get to know Jesus through endless sources.  He is trustworthy to show me the way however he wants to show me His way. I don’t have to go read my bible for a hour to make up for not intentionally connecting to him enough today (that’s the gospel of try harder, he’s not already delighted and pleased with you).  My believing that He and I are one and in love NOW, and not something to be achieved, has ushered me into quite an unforeseen adventure of trusting Jesus to show himself to me through a large family and sharing my life with them for a period of time:

            The last two weeks, BJ and I have had a family of 15 living with us.  And we’ve invited them to come back this summer!  I think if I heard myself saying that two years ago, I would have said, Ash –you’re crazy!! Really, though, it has been life-giving and wonderful.  Our guests have brought a beautiful loving emotional and spiritual climate into our home.  BJ and I have always wanted to have tight community living with people, and when we lived in intentional community before in 2008-2010, we didn’t know if we’d ever be able to do it again because it felt like the  community we created with others failed our expectations in many ways. This time around in 2013/2014, we talked with this family about our many fears and anxieties at the thought of hosting them as our guests for any length of time.  They assured us that they did not want to be guests hosted by us, they wanted to live with us and be around the real us, and they wanted to offer us help.  Projects around the house, making meals, doing dishes, watching our babies for us so we could sleep and go on dates, and get to know one another better.  We all agreed on having good communication together throughout our experience, and if we could tell each other when something bugged us or a boundary needed to be set, etc, then we could do this.  Let me tell you a bit about our friends who are now like family to us:

            Tonya and Dave Roper are in their mid forties and have 12 children (and a family friend) between the ages of 19 and 2 and they live out of an RV and a pickup truck with a trailer.  God has called them away from living the secure life they were living outside of Abbeyville, KS.  Dave was doing sheetrock and all sorts of handyman work, and Tonya and the kids were running gardens, and milking cows, tending chickens, goats, lambs, horses.  They had a stocked pantry and plenty of money coming in every week.   And one week, through a series of unexpected events, Jesus told them it was time for them to leave their place in the care of friends and begin to travel.  Over the last few years of traveling off and on, they have enjoyed traveling around the United States, building friendships and community with people while sharing in their possessions and laboring together.  Dave offers healing using homeopathy, massage, prayer, acupressure, essential oils, etc.  And he and his boys do handyman work for people.  And this is how they put food on the table and gas in the truck so to speak.  God takes care of them in their obedience to Him and the adventure they create together.  Just like He promised.

Tonya & Dave Roper
           What was this like for me, for us?  Well, we usually worry about all sorts of things in our home.  Energy is one, privacy is another, food and possessions, how time is spent.  We set up some clear boundaries well before they came, knowing what things would likely irk us. And we let go of some things that we didn’t want to have to deal with anymore, internally.  I heard myself saying aloud to Tonya and kids, Oh, Riviere is learning to share, she’s not used to having others play with her toys.  And His voice within me chuckling says, YOU’RE LEARNING TO SHARE!  Our family experienced FREEDOM from some of these internal vices and patterns of interacting that we could not achieve without the help of healthy loving community. 

        I didn’t wash a dish in the two weeks they were here.  I didn’t make a meal. They provided most of the food.  I got to take naps, go do yoga, hang out without much concept of time.  We got to benefit from Dave’s healing gifts as he helped each of us heal from emotional, spiritual, & physical issues.  He spent time helping me grow in my healing gifts, man to man time with BJ.  Their children hug all of the time.  I think I was hugged a minimum of three times a day by each person.  My children were kissed and hugged and played with. 

Making soaked wheat pancakes together, Nourishing Traditions style

There were a few moments that particularly touched my heart.

          Feeling worried about my daughters toys being lost, misplaced, or broken at times, and I traded these thoughts out for letting other little girls enjoy them to their fullest, they are easily replaced. Additionally Riviere went from screaming MINE every time she saw a kid with her toy to not even noticing by the end b/c sharing her things was normal and she got good at it.  I was thankful for this as she had been doing this MINE thing with 9 month old sister.

Jude, Felicity, Orianna

Riviere, Autumn, Eijah, Summer
       One night some musician friends came over, and everyone took turns singing and playing instruments.  It was glorious.  Banjos, guitars, harmonies, clapping, truths were sung, worship was had, it was magical.
Paul and Lezlee Fowler singing their hearts out

Paul, Lezlee, Orianna, Ash, BJ, Rachel, Noah, Caleb, Sam

Jessica Rozof and Aaron Lee Martin bringing it
        Not fearing things getting broken.  In the last few days one child was responsible for breaking two things.  This child felt terrible even though Dave and Tonya made sure the items were fixed or replaced right away.  As I was sitting at the kitchen on the last day, Tonya was making the lunch, this same child accidentally broke another item, and fell to the ground, crying.  At first I thought they were hurt, but then I realized they were so embarrassed.  So mortified that they could accidentally break so many things of someone else’s and feeling horrible. Tonya held this child’s head in her lap as they wept. Oh, sweet little precious compassionate child. I reassured them as deeply as I could.  We have to keep remembering that people are more important than possessions.  

       The Ropers sing all of the time.  Often with instruments, often without.  Also, they will affirm one another and friends by someone loudly exclaiming, "ALL HAIL ________ (insert names of people hailed here, such as BJ and Ashley" Everyone immediately exclaimes in unison, " HAIL BJ AND ASHLEY (or whomever is hailed).  It's incredible to be hailed. 
Gabe, Seth, Levi

        A dance party we had and mostly grown husbands were dancing and being silly together with us women floating in and out.  Kombucha punch and paleo foods were had.  

Tonya, Ashley

        Chief football games being watched.  Funny movies being watched for the first time (the older Roper kids had never seen Dumb and Dumber for instance) Watched is not the word.  If I liked football I would never want to watch it with anyone else.  I always thought watching funny movies was awesome with BJ b/c he's the only one I knew who laughed out loud.  The Ropers laugh hard, and easily.  They cheer frequently.  Watching football and funny movies is so uplifting when you are with them! 

Watching Chiefs, crowd is getting loud!

       God’s kindness leads us to repentance.  One night I became very upset Orianna had gagged on something, and when BJ finally got it up, it was a little piece of foil that had fallen to the floor.  I was angry and took it out on Tonya: she is not easily offended and felt terrible that it happened, genuinely apologized to me twice.  Later Dave approached me and apologized too.  I was sheepish.  As if my baby wouldn't have choked on a piece of trash when just the four of us were here. I realized that they responded to me so graciously, and if they had not, I may have become defensive and not learned much in my blaming and reactivity.  Their kindness and not being easily offended humbled me greatly.  I realized their unconditional love for me in my humanness did not breed entitlement whatsoever. Their response out of their true selves elicited my true identity in Christ, eventually.  And this is the same thing I saw in how they interacted with their children throughout our stay together.  We later had a talk about it that I initiated and processed through it more for further healing within our relationship.  I do not feel guilty, only glad for loving friends who I can be real with and for the expression of forgiveness.

        I remember Faith and Mercy carrying my Orianna around in the baby Boba carrier. 15 year old Caleb slow dancing with Orianna for many songs.  Constant invitations from all the kids for Riviere to join them in whatever they were doing, everyone always including. BJ getting lots of guy time was awesome, there's normally a severe imbalance around here with three ladies to one manly man. 

Gabe, Levi, Elijah, Jude, Seth, Caleb BJ and Orianna

       I love that healing was happening in our home everyday for friends, family, and acquaintances.  It still is occurring as long as the Ropers are in town.  This house is The Restoration House.  My husband is physically restoring this home’s beauty.  And love, community, and wholeness is happening here and abounding more and more each day.  I am proud. 

Dave and Caleb doing healing touch and prayer with Rachel

Mercy, Tonya, Faith

         The Ropers believe in who they are in Christ, and they live out of that place, literally.  When we believe, we act, if we don't act on what we believe then it is not belief at all.  They are certainly not perfect people but they are honest and they are loving. I learned a lot from them about parenting, about giving, hugging, not being afraid, and especially about believing.  I am thankful for these new friends who are like family and future adventures together.  I am grateful and filled up and more my true self for having these friends stay here for a short time.  And eager for them to join us again.  If you want to meet the Ropers while they are in Wichita (or if you live in another part of the country you can request a visit!), they plan to be here until around January 23rd 2014 if places to stay/people to stay with continue to unfold.  If you would like ot have them over for a meal or a few days or a week or just want treatment or nutritional program from Dave at my house or some handyman work, sheet rocking, etc, let us know and we’ll put you in touch.  Be encouraged and remember you are not alone, you are loved and we believe in YOU.  In Christ, the Brockus’ 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior (Hillsong United - Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Lyrics 


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