Leaving Philly, Loving Orlando

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.

21 thoughts on “Leaving Philly, Loving Orlando

  1. Daniel Parsons

    God has you in His Hands Jennifer. All of your families ministries are blessing other people. Will put you in my prayer journal for continued blessings as you impact lives of people through local endeavors, music ministry, counseling, and the programs on 3ABN.

  2. Dan

    Hi Jennifer. I just read your Spring Update. I like how you write. It’s so refreshingly honest and real. You make readers feel like they’ve known your family for a long time, which is great, and so gracious of you. Sometimes we need to be invited into the lives of our other brothers and sisters, not to compare, but to see how God is working in and through His children. Thank you for giving me one of those pieces you selflessly cast out like leaves of autumn to all who would appreciate them. And thank you for all the different Godly ministries you’ve helmed. He’s used you in a mighty way. Don’t think that just because a ministry didn’t make much money that it didn’t touch many lives and steer them in the right direction. God never wastes sincerely initiated ministries, especially those you’ve seen His touch in.

  3. Jan House

    Wow, Jennifer, busy you are! Wonderful to receive your update, to dream about Abiding Place Farm and praying the Fecal Palace soons gets new owners (and a new name)!

    Love you, girl. Hope to see you again, one of these fine days.

  4. Melinda Smith

    Happy you are happy! May God bless you wherever you go.

  5. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Dan, that brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  6. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Jan that made me laugh. It does need a new name!

  7. Bob Tetz

    Jennifer, You probably don’t remember me but I worked with Monty in Philly for a year or two. We ate lunch at your cafe. Great! I always follow your council in making soup’ “Chicken style will cover a multitude of sins.” It does work. We are retired/working in BC Canada. Love your writing. God Bless you and Mike.

  8. Fiona

    So cool to see these things happening!
    I agree with what Dan said, you write like you would to people who know you – and through the various ministries, we DO know (parts)of you. Thank you.
    True pouring reminds me of what Jesus said: “unless a seed goes into the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit.”
    I’m encouraged to pour more of myself out!

  9. Rebekah

    Thank you Jennifer for your words. It made me cry because I feel as if I have given so much of myself over the years and have incurred much hurt and I have no one to talk to but God. He has blessed my life more than I have ever expected. I feel through my gardening and growing things that I am slowly healing. As I slowly get rid of the weeds, the brush and the bad soil filled with rocks, I replace them with good things and it makes my heart hopeful again. May God continue to bless you in all you do. Many thanks.

  10. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Of course I remember you and Myrna, Bob! Thanks for checking in and keep up the soup-making!

  11. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Great, Fiona. You’re good work lives on here at the farm.

  12. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    That’s great Rebekah. Keep gardening.

  13. John Warren

    Thank you for the update. Keep moving forward. John

  14. Grace Cox

    From Philly to Orlando! What a change. And what a varied and blessed life you have led, and you have been a blessing to so many through your ministries and your counseling service. I have watched the last few of your “Multitude of Counselors” on 3ABN and only wish the programs were longer!

    I have made only three major moves in my entire life (78 years), and I can’t be sure whether I left any pieces of myself (other than my heart) in the other places where I have lived. It seems, though, that I lost most of myself when my husband died over four years ago. But God has been good, and I’m richly blessed.

    May you, your family, and your ministries continue to enrich the lives of many others from your new home base, as God continues to guide you and work through you to hasten Jesus’ coming to take us home.

  15. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Nice to hear from you, Grace. I’m sorry to hear your husband died. Soon and very soon!

  16. Kathy-Ann C. Hernandez

    Hi Jennifer, did not realize you had left Philly. Met you at Chesrnut Hill Church some time ago. Just read your devotional today in Breathe. Blessings to you on your journey ahead.

  17. HillG

    Love it! Your emails were going to my promotional folder, but I found them! Miss you!

  18. Leah Cochran

    That picture of you and your daughters makes me happy. It is just great!

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