7 Everythings I Learned from Participating in Judgment House

Low quality picture, high quality person.  My friend Ari.

Low quality picture, high quality person. My friend Ari.

My friend Ari {isn’t she super cute?} is the author of this guest post for 7 Everythings I’ve Learned.  

Ari and I attend the same church.  I actually knew her mom for several years before I ever met Ari herself.  The first time we were introduced was when she came to a speaking engagement of mine about three years ago.  After that, we have become friends and discovered many similarities between us, including:

  • We were both raised Nazarene
  • We are both passionate about writing
  • Both our husbands are significantly older than us
  • We are both stepmoms to {now} adult stepdaughters
  • We are both a little sassy
  • We are both avid runners {HA! Yeah right.  Only Ari does that}. 

Our church, Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene {also known as The Woods at Wanamaker}, is going into their 18th year participating in a community outreach ministry called “Judgment House.” It is a live theatrical production depicting the opportunity for salvation, set in present day and honing in on current issues that plague our youth.  It is tradition for “Judgment House” to be performed during the Halloween season in order to provide alternative entertainment to the haunted houses.

Ari has been involved in Judgment House for most of those 18 years, and this year she has a major leadership role. In fact, she actually wrote the entire script.  Whoa.  This is such a unique production that not only changes the lives of the audience, but its own performers.  I asked her if she would be willing to share the 7 Everythings she has learned from participating in Judgment House after all these years. 

If you are in the Topeka area, we would love to see you there.  Details about performances are at the bottom of this post if interested. 

Here’s Ari:

For Judgment House this year, we have adopted the motto “Only He will judge me” because that is the ultimate truth. The purpose of “Judgment House” is not to project personal judgment onto others—that right only belongs to God. Rather, our purpose is to bring awareness about the afterlife and offer hope to the hurting and lost.

 In year’s past we have purchased the script written by the staff at the home office for “Judgment House,” but this year our pastor, L.D. Holmes, felt called for us to write an original script. Our ministry focus for 2015 is cutting, also know as self-harm. Our church congregation bands together from Children’s and Youth Ministries, to pastoral staff, to prayer teams, in order to reach the hurting and lost souls in the Topeka and surrounding communities. The following are “7 Everythings” God is teaching me, our cast, and our crew through our participation in this extraordinary ministry.

1. Nothing Will Go as Planned

Although many things were done differently this year we are still scheduling a last minute rehearsal, completing sets two days before production, and crossing every finger, toe, and eyeball that the cast will have their lines down come opening night. That being said, I have watched the Holy Spirit weave throughout our preparation in what I can only describe as beautiful chaos. If my type-A self could learn to relinquish control to God in other areas of my life the way He is teaching me in this ministry, I can only imagine what He could do. {Actually, I can’t imagine it . . . but that’s kind of the point}.

2. It is a Great Social Equalizer

Our team members vary in age, ethnicity, school districts, social stature and personal interests. Some of us have been members of our church for only a few months, and then there are others who have been attending WWCN since they were in diapers. We are an amusing melting pot of disciples working together with a common goal and my cup overflows.

3. No One is a Lost Cause

We have recovered addicts depicting Jesus and the scarred arm of a woman reborn in Christ splayed across the posters promoting this year’s production. Our team members are living testimonies of the miracle Jesus can work in anyone’s life who is willing to accept Him as Savior.

4. It Will Get Uncomfortable

Did you get a little fidgety reading that last one? It’s okay if you did; you would be in the majority. Society not only encourages, they sometimes indignantly demand that we keep our shameful secrets carefully tucked away and refrain from openly speaking about our faith to avoid making others uncomfortable. The members of our team are willing to take that risk to bring a message of hope.

5. Satan Will Get Angry

Nothing ticks off the Devil more than shedding light on the lies he has fed us about our worth in this world. His number one goal is to separate you from God’s love by any means necessary. When you’ve got recovered addicts and self-harm victims speaking out about their healing, and proclaiming that others may have it too, the names of lost souls are dropping like flies off his list. He will fight back, but we have warriors lifting our ministry up in fervent prayer everyday. Satan can throw all the temper tantrums he wants; we will not back down and we will not be afraid.

6. A LOT of Duct Tape Will Be Used

I mean A LOT. I have never seen someone burn through 60 yards of duct tape in a matter of two hours, but apparently it is humanly possible. That’s what it takes to bring a ministry like this together. It requires a willingness on the type-A director’s part to accept a set whose structure is supported by 80% duct tape, 10% staples, and 10% blind faith. In reality, it takes 100% blind faith in a God who has worked miracles far greater than structurally sound duct tape contraptions. If I was forced to choose between this and unlimited resources to hire a professional construction crew, my God would have the winning bid every time.

7. Lives Will be Changed.

Lives have already been changed. Perhaps the cast and crew don’t realize it yet, but when they agreed to participate they took a step forward in their faith walk. Their path shifted, even if only slightly, to move them a little closer to Jesus. He said “Follow me,” and they said, “Okay!” The changes don’t stop there. Every person who makes the decision to attend will have their lives touched in some way; whether it’s to bring awareness, give them a new perspective, or completely flip their world upside down. I cannot describe the sense of blessing and humility I feel about God choosing me to be a part of it, and I cannot WAIT to see His hand work in these lives.

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Performance dates and times are: October 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, 25, 28, and 30. 6 – 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays, 6 – 10 p.m. on Saturdays. For questions or reservations call (785) 220-8885

In addition to the performances, we offer a plethora of delectable concession stand treats to enjoy before and after the productions. New to the list of menu items are cake pops from Bondbons! Also new this year, we will be offering mobile laser tag by Laser Trooper to those who have purchased a ticket for the show.

Paying Down Debt – September 2015

It was almost exactly two years ago when Randy and I took our first Financial Peace University class.  We entered into that room as a hopeless married couple who was $82,000 in debt {and that number doesn’t even include our mortgage!}.  Two years later, we have paid off almost half of those awful student loans.

Click here to see our new balance.

I was so so hoping that this would have been the month we hit the halfway mark, but we didn’t quite make it.  We should, hopefully, get to that point next month.  I’m still proud to say that we were able to pay off $2,637 in September.   

Here is what we did this month to go above and beyond our regular payments:

  • I had an above average month in profits from selling Bondbons {if you placed an order, thank you!}
  • I supervised a detention on Saturday morning {no, it’s not like the Breakfast Club}
  • Randy did a few side jobs of auto and house repair
  • Our gas bill was $60 less than usual {every little bit helps}
  • We {kind of} refinanced on our house {it’s a long story . . .}, and we were able to use money we did not have to pay for the month and apply it to the debt
  • There are several other odd jobs we did {such as line judging, teaching cake pop classes supervising the ACT, and being a home bound teacher}, but we haven’t been paid for them yet.  An update on those next month.

My sweet husband has worked like a dog this month, but unfortunately his construction business has not been profitable for us due to many factors out of his control. Luckily he has a steady income with teaching and the construction is just supplemental. This has obviously been quite frustrating to us, but I have faith that October will be a better month.

I want to mention that if we just worked our teaching jobs, we would be able to pay off about $1,000 a month.  That’s not good enough. To pay our debt off faster, we have to do some major overtime. We have to be intentional.  We have to cut a lot of luxuries out of our life.  We have to watch every penny.

I don’t share what we do and how we pay extra to brag.  I share this each month to show the masses that this is possible.  Hopefully this is an encouragement and inspiration.  If you look for opportunities, are willing to work, and live below your means, you will be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish.  Between teaching full time, being a mom, a wife, a small business owner, a volunteer, and working extra jobs, I get about 5 hours of sleep a night.

I love my sleep, but right now, I love seeing the balance of our debt go down more.

Stay tuned for our next update on November 1st.


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