Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lessons from Olives

"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercies of God forever and ever." -Psalm 52:8

Three years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Italy for his 40th birthday. Traveling the hills of Tuscany, I looked out the window of the bus and saw what could quite possibly have been thousands of olive trees. The grass around them wasn't particularly lush, their leaves were a greyish-green that didn't really stand out, and their trunks were mostly twisted instead of the strong, thick trunks of trees back home that I was used to. Still, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. They were spectacular because of their simplicity and seeing so many together really made an impact.

If you look at this lone green olive tree, you'll notice a few things. Upon more than just a perfunctory glance, this tree appears as though it could be two trees wrapped around each other, but it's not. Growing from the same roots, two pieces of trunk crawl up and around, almost in an embrace, then branch out at the top to go in different directions and produce leaves and fruit which, in turn, will produce an astounding crop, rich bottles of olive oil, and ever so much more. With just this one simple tree, the possibilities are myriad. Olive trees can grow in almost any condition and can take a battering of weather, soil, and abuse, yet still thrive to bring one forth one of the most basic staples of diet in many places. Immediately after the biblical account of the flood, the sign that was brought forth to Noah that the land was ready? A dove carrying an olive leaf. A historic symbol of peace and victory? The olive branch. The most famous sermon in all of history? Given on the Mount of Olives.

I'd like to formally welcome you to the new name of the ministry branch of A Journey of Reinvention and Ours + His +Mine = Nine:

Green Olive Ministries

Formerly just titled after this blog, my main ministry partner, Andie Kingsbury, and I decided upon Green Olive Ministries as the name for our hands-on work together locally. She and her large family have been trusting God to provide a new home that would fit all of them comfortably, be in the right place for them to minister to the community, and to bring the financial aspects together while they are both unemployed. God being the miracle-worker He is did exactly that, and they are now in a home three times the size of what they'd been occupying until now. They are in a prime location to live missionally in their neighborhood and beyond, and I couldn't be more excited about the way God is working in their lives. On this end, after leaving my former place of employment because I'd felt so strongly that God was leading me to do so (though it made ZERO sense financially because we had also recently made the decision that He was leading my husband to finally go to school full time)... He has done nothing but provide for and bless us at every single avenue. Door after door has opened, and every time we've needed income, it's been there -- from random refund checks from water softener companies, to finding $5 on the ground, to having someone randomly call and say, "You used to clean houses, do you still do that?"

Like olive trees, our families are thriving in every environment, no matter what kind of weather, soil, or abuse we've taken, and we're coming together as the hands and feet of Jesus to produce good fruit right where we are, to branch out and provide sustainable living solutions for those in need around us, to feed hungry kids in the community, to teach new mothers to make cloth diapers for their little ones, to pray and to help and to love everyone we come in contact with, just like Jesus did and does today.

If you would like to make a donation to Green Olive Ministries, please know a few things: we're not shoving Jesus down anyone's throat. We're helping people, as many as we can, right where they are. If they're a fan of Jesus, great. If not, great. We're not judging, condemning, forcing anything on anyone... we're just in this to do the next right thing at each step. That being said, if you're on board with a monetary donation, a donation of your time, a donation of your goods and services toward any of our upcoming projects, or if you just want to learn more about how you can be a part of something bigger than all of us, drop me a line at AJourneyofReinvention@Gmail.Com and I'll get back to you right away.

More than anything, we need your prayers. So much will be happening in a short amount of time and we're trusting God to take the lead. We're just along for the ride...

And what a ride it is!

Stephanie Jean