In The Middle Of A Miracle
Organized by: Christopher Jones
The Sun Sets
September 02, 2016
EVENT DATE Sep 01, 2016
R E A D Y F O R A M I R A C L E ?
Would you believe that God gave us a vision on June 7th, 2016 that we would pay over $60,000 OFF in debt by September 1st, 2016?
Crazy, right? Jenna and I are 1 week away from our miracle and all is set to be paid by Sept 1st aside from our money for moving expenses, ($2500 for uhaul and gas) which is why we are reaching out to you.
This is a risk. Putting ourselves out there like this. But we feel it’s a risk that is worth sharing. Please know that if you are struggling… that if it all seems hopeless… there is a way out. A way out by audaciously pressing into uncertainty with faith - Not just prayer, not just faith. But faith AND prayer AND action, and in the end, a little help from your friends. Please bear with me, as being vulnerable in such a public forum is not an easy thing, but I know it is a big part of this journey and a necessary puzzle piece of this miracle fully coming to pass. Thank you.
O U R S T O R Y
First of all… I can’t believe I am writing this. Secondly, this is a mild “cliff notes” version of the epic novel that has been the last 6 years. Our feature film with every insane not-possible detail will hopefully be released winter of 2019 (wink, wink). SO…. Until then… here goes.
Early in 2009, Jenna and I were debt free. We didn’t have much, but we didn’t owe anything. Then Jenna’s father, Chuck Coker, a charismatic entrepreneur and leader among men, was diagnosed with stage 4 abdominal, lung, and brain cancer and given 3 short months to live.
We immediately began charging trips to see him on our credit cards, endeavoring to help wherever we could but accumulating debt in the process. As a thank you to us, he and his loving wife (Jenna’s step-mother) sent us to Europe for a 10-day vacation. 4 days into our trip Chuck was moved into hospice care and given days to live. We immediately flew back, spending thousands of dollars for our one-way, last minute tickets. He held on for another week and every minute with him was a privilege.
It would be an understatement to say that the following years were a financial roller coaster. In the process of building a business, I unexpectedly had to take drastic pay cuts shortly after we bought our condo in LA. We squeaked out the mortgage each month for 2 years, but had to charge groceries and other necessities along the way. Then, our amazingly precocious & beautiful little girl Presley arrived! But, this knocked Jenna’s working ability down quite a bit, especially with me being out of town over 6 months of the year.
With a 3-month-old to take care of and debt looming and getting worse, we realized we could no longer afford our home, and we sold it in 2013, using the profit to pay off half our credit card debt.
Since then we have downsized 3 more times (in 3 years) in an effort to more responsibly deal with our finances. We’ve sold things, continued to cut our budget, taken any gig we could, even living with Jenna’s mother (Thank you, Harriet!) for January, February and August of this year. (As of December 27, 2015 we have been living out of suitcases and our stuff has been in a storage unit in LA.)
I want to pause for a moment to acknowledge that I feel incredibly vulnerable as I write this. It is hard to fight the voice of shame that says, “You are supposed to support your family! You’ve made so many mistakes over the years! And now you’re telling people about it?! What a weak man you are.” But I feel it’s important you hear our story, despite my ego, because of what happened next.
This summer ended up being one of the most rich, scary, yet incredibly exhilarating times of our life. I knew that I would be working in Chicago on and off all summer, and since connecting as a family was difficult in the spring with Jenna’s “Housewives...” Show & my touring schedule, we decided to live in Chicago for May-July.
For three months Presley had her own room. (This was a big deal, since from Feb-May she was sleeping in a bathroom and we had the bedroom in Jenna’s besties place in LA—love you, Ash!) Meanwhile, Jenna and I slept on a couch in the living room. Knowing we needed direction, Jenna and I committed to getting up every morning before Presley to pray and seek guidance together. If you know my affinity for morning sleep, you know this was a big deal for me!
Then, on June 7th we heard God say we would be debt free by September 1st.
What the What?!?! This sounded impossible.
For those of you tempted to tune out now, let me tell you what I think the voice of God is. It’s that voice that tells you that the job you just interviewed for is yours, before you get the phone call. It’s the voice that says a relative that passed on that was close to you sees you and is proud of you. It’s the voice that says maybe you should spend some time on your marriage before it’s too late. It’s the voice of Love. Sometimes it comes through other people, like a close friend, but on June 7th it came during two hours spent in prayer. (The full story of how this happened and what it was like will be in said feature film, and it will be Academy Award worthy.)
To tell you everything that has happened since then would take much too long, and I’m already being too long-winded, but let me give you the cliff notes:
Starting on June 7th we had an embarrassing $56,008 in debt.
Right after the “can’t wrap my head around how in the world this would happen” vision came, these are only
A F E W O F T H E T H I N G S T H A T H A P P E N E D
The IRS demanded another $5000 (immediately) from us at the end of June, so it’s fair to say we had a $60,000+ problem.
We had our car towed from a legal loading zone, which cost us $220
We were turned down for a car loan, after we thought we should maybe sell our car and downgrade to smaller car, using the profit to go toward the debt.
We had California notify us of an extra $900 tax debt
We had to find and pay deposits/fees on an apartment that we needed to begin 9/01
We had a hotel I stayed at drain our bank account to 0$ after charging a massive fee saying that I smoked and trashed the room (Um, Nope. I did neither.)
T H E M I R A C L E B E G A N T O H A P P E N
We received a $10,000 inheritance check out of the blue.
Jenna received an email from a past employer saying she a check she hadn’t cashed (we always deposit checks right away so this seemed impossible.)
We paid off our car.
The IRS notified us that they were resolving some back taxes we owed and instead of nearly $40,000, we only had to pay $7,028. We are now even with the government.
I received a bonus from work that never should have happened. Our company just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into projects that we hope will return revenue in the future, so for our business partner to cut us a check is insane. But it happened.
And now, a week till September 1st we owe $4000, and, believe it or not, on September 1 we will have enough money in the bank to pay it.
Don’t you think we didn’t celebrate, give glory to God and cry some ugly (but very happy) tears!
After our miraculous Summer in Chicago, and still needing to find a permanent home, we realized Chicago is where we need to put down roots. We have found an amazing preschool for Presley, an apartment that is perfect for us and the city life we love, and through it all the support of friends we already knew and the support of an incredible new church family at City Church Chicago.
B U T T H E N W E R E M E M B E R E D...
There’s just one catch. Duh. We need to get all our belongings to the city from LA. The cost of a uhaul and gas is roughly $2500. We already have our flights and everything else booked. So that is all we have left for this miracle to come to pass by September 1st.
We believe if it has already gone this far, we know that the rest will come no matter the circumstance. We have offered up everything we own to sell to make things happen by this date, and are still open to selling, but no bites yet. (Anybody need anything?)
After a brilliant sermon by Ps Kent Munsey about Love being the necessary ingredient in any great undertaking, we felt God nudge us to start sharing our story with our families. We sat down with our parents and close relatives and told them all the amazing things that had happened that were completely beyond our control and how fortunate we were. It is hard to admit how difficult this was for us to do at first.
To be vulnerable, to put all your cards on the table and detail your struggles to the people closest to you, when all you want to say is, “I’m fine. I got this. I’m in control.” is incredibly humbling and scary.
Then we felt the nudge to go further. We felt the question became, ‘Will this miracle mean more or less if no one else was a part of it?’ So we decided to share the story with everyone we knew and see if they wanted to participate. That’s what this page is about. There have been times we have supported someone else’s dream or vision because we wanted the same dream or vision to come to pass for us someday. OR, because we had been through the same struggle at some point and wanted to be a part of delivering someone else out of the pain we had experienced.
So, if you are still reading this, thank you, and here is what we’d like to ask you to do:
If you believe in miracles (or want to believe in miracles) or if you have been through a similar miracle, and want to see it come to pass for us, we would humbly ask to please donate towards our remaining $2500 so we can meet our 9/01 deadline.
And then, most importantly, write us (firstname.lastname@example.org) telling us about the miracle that happened in your life (or the miracle you’re hoping for) and why you wanted to give to us.
If you are in need right now, please do not feel obligated to give. Instead, please write us and tell us your need and how we can be praying for a miracle in your life.
We will be praying every day of this next week. In the past, we have seen jobs come out of the blue, cars given to those who need them, bitter resentful relationships brought back to life, and we have faith that these things and more can happen for you.
If you are reading this right now and scrunching your toes thinking, “Ugh why are they asking me for money?” please don’t give. We’ve been there. Not everyone is drawn to every story. We’d prefer you to give to the areas you are passionate about. And we hope you’ve enjoyed our long-winded ramblings (wink, wink).
If you believe in prayer, please pray for this: For all of the moving pieces we are juggling to come through by 9/1, and prayer that we will be able to help others in financial hardship once we are free from this weight.
O N E F I N A L N O T E
If, by another miracle, we raise more than the $2500 goal by September 1st, every dollar will be split 50/50 between our local church and the needs we identify from the emails we receive. We hope, if you are in need, we can not only pray but offer concrete, monetary help.
We are humbled. We are grateful. We are stunned. What has been an uphill brutal climb for so long, a weight that has been pressing down on us, chains that have been restricting us, will be eliminated by the grace of God. Thanks to all.