I used to blog each month, but I fell off the wagon. I suppose I got too busy with life to be writing about it all the time! But I need to update all of you as to some major changes in my life.
About two years ago Michael and I decided to move to Orlando, Florida. He moved down at the end of 2015 while I prepared the house in Philadelphia for sale. Once it sold, I moved in November of last year. I’ve been here four months.
As to what led to this decision: Major life changes require much hard thinking and weighing of options, and I’ve learned that God doesn’t necessarily short-circuit that process with direct commands, audible voices, or unmistakable signs. I figure that’s intentional on His part. Although a voice from Sinai would be nice in some ways, He gives us reasoning powers, hearts and consciences for a purpose; and nothing stretches them like big-picture decision-making. After all, He can massage the muscles of our minds in the right direction just as easily as He can write His will in the sky.
Well, it turns out we made the right decision. I’m 10 minutes from my beloved sister Kristin whom I’ve never lived near in my adult life. I’m two hours from my mom, elderly and struggling with dementia. I have an eight-acre farm that feels like a park but is actually situated in a somewhat urban area. Nevertheless we’ve started growing flowers and food and have hopes of turning our little farm into a Garden of Eden. My daughter Kimmy has a tiny home on the property. The weather is sublime, the neighbors friendly, and the ministry opportunities endless. Oh, and I can jet to the airport in half an hour when called to travel.
But amidst all this joy, there is loss. In order to love Orlando, I had to leave Philly.
I lived in Philadelphia for 15 years. During that time, I ran a café, cut a record, wrote several books, watched my children grow into young adults, got a graduate degree, began a counseling practice, and formed a band called The Lesser Light Collective which produced the albums The Lamb Wins and The King Dreams.
When I think about this last-mentioned adventure, an awe comes over me, a sense of history made, of God ordaining a story to unfold. With a sense of satisfaction I think of the young people whose ministries were initiated or encouraged through those projects—Lee G, Delon Lawrence, Christa Deana Young, Justin McLaughlin, John Millea, Andrew Carroll and others. I think of the thousands who’ve been blessed by the music. I think of how together we conquered a new creative frontier by using spoken word and other unconventional types of music to convey deep truth. I think of the lifelong bonds formed, still thriving to this day.
But there’s a stab of pain too. I miss those days of creating music with my Philly peeps, of being in a band. The Lesser Light Collective was the crowning adventure of my time in Philly, the crested wave of those fifteen years; but after the experience curled and crashed to the sand, my heart shattered, in a way. I gathered the pieces, cobbled it back together, and moved to Orlando, but one little piece is still lost at sea somewhere. And in the space it left an exposed nerve throbs, weeping a little from time to time.
I think this is good. When we pour ourselves out in life, we truly pour. True pouring means we leave something behind. I’m looking forward to more adventures here in Orlando, more opportunities to create, build, connect, love, and lose pieces myself forever.
Here’s what’s happening at this point:
Abide Counseling is slowly growing. We have a small band of counselors and coaches, and I do several trainings a year in an attempt to teach helpers how to help others with mental health challenges. We also have two thriving free telephone support groups using my books 13 Weeks to Peace and 13 Weeks to Love.
A Multitude of Counselors program on 3ABN will be taping its second season this May. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to share mental health principles in a fresh, unscripted format.
Recovery just may be the name of my new album. Before I left Philly, my friend Chris Irrgang, who grew up listening to Jennifer Jill music, convinced me that I wasn’t too old to cut another CD. I did! It’s still in the mixing process, but it should be coming out this spring or summer.
Abiding Place Farm—our little place in Orlando—has already begun to host therapy and educational events. This Friday we’ll be hosting a house concert with the one and only John Millea. We hope to use this place to its full potential, developing it agriculturally and possibly expanding the housing as God provides.
Michael Ministries received a donated property from a distressed properties program of Wells Fargo Bank. The previous owners’ pets had trashed the place, leaving it so filthy my husband Michael felt compelled to dub it the “Fecal Palace.” But with a team consisting mostly of my husband, daughter, and niece, we renovated it and hope to sell it to create revenue for future projects.
I could tell you more, but I won’t. Please hold Michael Ministries, Abide Counseling, The Lesser Light Collective, Abiding Place Farm and, yes, the sale of Fecal Palace in your prayers.
And leave pieces of yourself everywhere, okay? It’s an awesome way to live.