|A Note from the Pella House:
My name is Amanda Barker and I am the newest staff member here at the Pella house. And yes, I just said y'all! It's true, I am from the south. I am also the new writer for our newsletters. But you can read more about how I ended up here in Pella below.
With Thanksgiving this week and Christmas decorations already out in stores, coming up with a theme for this issue was pretty easy. Gluttony and Materialism! Just kidding...no this issue will be about being Thankful.
Now I am someone who loves Thanksgiving. But it's disheartening to me that I need a holiday to remind myself to be thankful. I'm not saying that I go around the other 364 days being ungrateful. But I will admit I do have a tendency to concentrate on my wants/needs/Jesus could you please, rather than the haves/gifts/Jesus thank you! The other day I read something pretty profound, it said "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" My first thought was "Well I wouldn't be waking up with much." I think I would like having the sign somewhere in my house, as a constant reminder to be thankful for what I have.
With that said let me say THANK YOU to all of you who support Teen Challenge through prayers, volunteering, and financial support. Without you, what we do would not be possible. May you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!
Shari with her sons
All Things Work Together For Good
Wow, so hard to believe that I am finally completing Teen Challenge (TC). God has shown me so much in my time here. There were several times that I wanted to quit and go home, but I knew that too much was at stake here. I have sons that needed to see VICTORY, which they had not seen in a long time. They needed to see God do His thing. Now I can only speak for myself, but as a "Christian" parent I have let them down. I turned away from God in hard circumstances. Instead I turned to people and substances to bring me relief, knowing all along that only God and His Holy Spirit could help me.
In November of 1991, I truly believed that I finally had this whole God thing figured out. I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, witnessed God work a miracle in my life, and along with my husband, received a spiritual heart transformation. I couldn't wait to see what God had in store for us. We had a passion for seeing everyone around us get the "God thing" too. Now at this same time, we also had some obstacles to overcome. We were starting a new business, having a baby, and struggling financially. But as we stepped out in obedient faith, God came through every time. We had the joy of seeing friends and family come to know Christ. We eagerly sought out our place in the body of Christ, and became involved in our church.
People warned us time and time again to stay in God's word, don't let your guard down. Well eventually we did. We allowed things into our lives and opened doors that in the end crippled us spiritually. Alcohol was one of those things. I told myself that drinking would be okay, even though the Holy Spirit had told me otherwise. At first it was not a problem, but soon drinking became a tool to deal with hurt, rejection, and loss. I lost both my mother and father to lung cancer within three years of each other. I had an overwhelming fear that even when things were at peace, something horrible was going to happen. I became dark and depressed. My husband tried his best to fix me. I remember one night him gathering the boys around me, and all of them laying hands on me and praying. But no matter his efforts, he couldn't reconnect me to God. And this separation I felt from God left me a dark, gloomy, hopeless, extremely suicidal, frail, and paralyzed person.
Disillusioned with the whole situation, my husband sought peace and comfort from outside of God and our marriage. Spiritually this knocked me out. I gave up on God and did things that I never believed I would; suicide attempts, car wrecks, OWI's. But God refused to allow me to grow comfortable with this yucky behavior. In all of His glory, He knew what I needed. I needed a new environment, a refuge, a place where I could reconcile myself with Him and His truths. If you haven't already guessed that place was Teen Challenge.
My journey with TC actually started back in November of 2009. Pella was the closest center to my hometown, Bettendorf, IA. Unfortunately there were no openings, and I needed to get somewhere fast. So I entered the TC Center in Cleburne, Texas. Though my Texas TC family was awesome, I soon realized with two boys at home, that I needed to be closer. But again, there were still no openings at the Pella center, so I entered the Milwaukee TC on New Year's Eve of that same year. But while I was there I fed into Satan's lie that I was a quitter and I would be better off at home, and I left. It took another eight months of drinking, self-pity, and speaking with Candace before I finally made the decision to enter TC again. This time there was an opening in Pella.
When I began making the necessary arrangements to enter TC of Pella, God gave me my first miracle. I had an intestinal bacteria that was untreatable without a certain medication that just so happened to cost $3000. God immediately provided and I received the medication free of charge, from friends of mine who own a pharmacy. Oh and did I mention they had just the right amount of antibiotics that I needed? Some may say that's a coincidence but I call that a Godcidence.
For almost twenty-five years I looked to my husband to supply all my needs and by doing so I set us both up for failure. I've learned that you can't put anyone else in God's place, He won't allow it. But I've also learned that nothing I do can change the plan and purpose God has for me. I am His beloved daughter and that alone gives me enough love and power to fulfill all the plans He has for my life. He alone is my provider. Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." I stand here today, two weeks away from completing, and can honestly say I know that verse to be true. I've seen it come to pass many of times in my life. Thank you Lord for creating me for a specific purpose and for never giving up on me! I love you!
Shari with her family at her son's graduation
We have DUTCH LETTER'S for Sale
Get Excited...the ladies of Teen Challenge are making
With the holidays right around the corner, these are the perfect gift to share with family and friends.
To Order call me (Amanda) at 628-2808.
They cost $7 for a pkg of 2
You can pick them up at the Pella Teen Challenge House
at 714 Independence St.
When: Order after the Thanksgiving Weekend
until the 16th of December and pick them up
on the 19th from 6-8pm
We look forward to taking your orders!
SHARI'S COMPLETION SERVICE
Celebrating what God has done in Shari's life!
When: Saturday, December 10th at 6:30 pm-8:00 pm
Where: First Baptist Church, 703 Independence St, Pella, IA (directly south of the women's home)
Dessert and Refreshments to follow.
For more information, please contact me (Amanda) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (641) 628-2808.
That's me in the headband, with my lovely friend, Libby Avalos
Why? That was probably the number one response I got when I told people I was moving to Iowa. Even after being told that I felt as if God was calling me to, people still gave me a quizzical look. Most people blamed the fact that I had spent 3 weeks in Iowa this summer. I was helping my best friend, Libby (formerly Hunsberger now Avalos), prepare for her wedding <insert sitting in her office and distracting her from working with wedding talk>. For those of you who don't know Libby, she works at the Teen Challenge Men's center in Colfax. So when I told people that I was going to take the job at the Pella house, they immediately assumed I was doing it to be closer to her. I was a little insulted that people would think that I would move 1,100 miles just to be closer to a friend (Oh did I mention that I'm from Jacksonville Beach, Florida? Yep I am!). I mean it's not like I was a leper back home, I do have other friends. No one quite like Libby, but still I had some pretty awesome people around me.
Moving to Pella, IA wasn't like I was moving a across the street or even a couple of towns over. No, moving to Iowa meant completely uprooting my life, leaving my home and everything familiar to me. It meant moving to a town with a population of less people than I went to college with. It meant learning how to not be indifferent to snow <still working on that>. It meant learning what exactly a Dutch Letter is <if you don't know, you should order some to find out>. So this decision was not taken lightly, nor was it based on any relationship other than the one that I have with God.
I remember hearing about this job back in March. Libby was telling me that they were looking to hire someone. Just moments before in our conversation I had been talking about not being sure what my plans were for the future, and wondering what God wanted me to do. I definitely believe God was trying to use her to speak to me. But the suggestion that I should take that job went completely over my head. I remember telling her that I would pray that they found someone <who knew that someone would be me? I mean besides Jesus!>.
A few months later I was in Colfax sitting in Libby's office, listening to her tell me about how they were still looking for a new staff member for the Pella House. She then proceeded to tell me in a hesitant voice that whenever she prayed about the job position, my name came to mind. I think I just started shaking my head no, actually I think my whole body started shaking no. It was as if Libby dropped a bomb because the life that I had known was wrecked from that moment on.
I spent that next two months literally trying to convince myself that God could not possibly be calling me to Iowa! As you can see I lost that battle. In the end I just couldn't deny that in the moment that Libby first said something, my heart stirred. Deep down I was intrigued by what God could possibly have for me in Iowa. The only argument that I could come up with against His plan, was that it snows in Iowa (not my best argument).
Now several people spoke words of truth into my life about this job, some knowing and some unknowingly. But the thing that did me in was when I was reading about the disciples. God called all of them in the midst of what they were doing and they just followed Him. Immediately, after one simple encounter with Him, they just followed. No questions asked. I was in awe of their obedience, their ability to lay aside their own ambitions, and more so their ability to see Jesus Christ.
And that's what got me. Here I was claiming to be a Christian, claiming to be encountering God, and yet I was complaining to Him about moving to a place that actually experiences seasons. I realized that if I really saw Him the way the disciples did, would there really be any problem? God had stirred my heart, the same way I believe He stirred the disciples, and He left me to make the decision. To follow or to not follow? I knew that God wouldn't leave me if I stayed in Jacksonville. But I knew that I could be passing up a chance to encounter Jesus, in a way reminiscent of the disciples. And that was a chance I wasn't willing to pass up (and I'm thankful I didn't). So, with some details edited out (yes this is the short version) that's why Iowa.
If you have questions on how you can help the women of Teen Challenge by donating or volunteering, please contact me at (641) 628-2808 or email me at email@example.com
Amanda Barker XXOO
Pella Teen Challenge Women's Home
- Replacing Windows and Installation
- Upright refrigerator (good condition)
- Subscription to the Des Moines Register
- Laundry Detergent
- Dishwasher Detergent (liquid)
Pray for new students
Pray for Abby's daughter Addison, healing in her body only 2 yrs. old
Pray for women who have completed the program.
Pray for protection for women as they deal with pain, loss and grief.
Pray for continued financial support from individuals and the community.
Prayer for wisdom, discernment and peace for the staff in the midst of challenging situations.
Pray for the overall health of our staff and students
Pray that Shari finds a full time job here in Pella (her one at Jaarsma will soon end)
Pray that Shari finds affordable housing, so she can stay in Pella
And if you have time pray for a short winter
Supervisory Staff (Weeknight & Weekend Shifts)
Rides for women
In the spirit of Thanksgiving...
Shari with her mentor Mary Ann
I (Shari) truly believe that the following blessings would not have happened to me if I hadn't obeyed the Holy Spirit's voice and entered Teen Challenge:
1. The gift of a $3000 antibiotic and physical healing
2. A 20 year marriage & a postponed divorce
3. A lot of renewed love and respect from my sons
4. An awesome full time job through December (THANK YOU JAARSMAS)
5. The miracle of a restriction free drivers license
6. The gift of an amazing vehicle
7. Hundreds of dollars of free dental work (Thanks Dr. Eric)
8. Inner Healing
9. Ability to forgive others & myself
10. Peace, sanity (although some may argue otherwise), a renewed hope in the Lord, and inner joy.
Thank you to all who make Teen Challenge of Pella possible.
or send to
714 Independence St
Pella, IA 50219
JOIN US ON
November 24th Happy Thanksgiving!
December 3rd Shari's Completion Service
December 19th Come Pick up your Dutch Letters