Emerging From Grief

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm…” (Job 38:1)

A few days after Truitt’s funeral, some of my family and I were sitting in the kitchen asking some tough questions. After experiencing such deep loss, we have such a desire to just be in Heaven and not have to suffer the pain of this earth anymore. We were meant for Heaven anyways, so what’s the point of being here on earth? I know all the cliché answers like, “We have purpose here too, God chose us to bring others to salvation, etc etc.” But if that is not real in my heart, how will I ever accomplish that?

So God has been speaking today and I am going to attempt to write it down in a way that is coherent. I am taking notes from Job’s experience, since he experienced some pretty intense loss. I am also stealing some ideas from the book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, which I highly recommend you read too.

  • Face the Dark Night of Your Soul

Somewhere along the way, I was told that feelings of sadness and anger were sinful and that I shouldn’t feel that way. But those are real feelings that I believe are from God. All feelings are messengers from God that speak to us of Him and so I must face the sadness and anger and allow myself to feel these real emotions.

  • Wait in the Confusing In-Between and Listen

While anger and sadness are real, I know that I also cannot stay there forever. I must sit in the sadness and wait for God to meet me there. When He meets me there, it is such a precious gift. His nearness is so raw and real and beautiful. Because I have chosen to wait for Him in the pain, then I am able to start moving through it WITH Him!

  • Emerge from the Pain

Job emerged from his suffering transformed, broken and changed. He was intimately connected to the Lord. He allowed God to enlarge his soul for even more of God! I am experiencing this and I can’t tell you how exciting it is! I know God in a deeper, more meaningful way.

  • I’m Not Finished Yet

So back to this whole “I have a purpose for being here on earth” thing. Yes, Heaven is ultimately where I am headed, but Heaven is in my heart while I’m waiting to get there! The only thing that makes Heaven so wonderful is the fact that GOD IS THERE and I carry God’s presence with me as I walk on this earth.

As I am discovering more of God through grief, I pray that I am sowing Biblical hope into others’ lives as well. You can be certain about your future but it also affects how you live TODAY. Biblical hope is life-shaping certainty.

I pray that God is enlarging your souls today for more of Him. Don’t be afraid to sit in the pain and let God meet you there. Trust me, it is SO worth it.

Truitt looking Up

Truitt keeping a Heavenly perspective. 🙂

The Continuing Process of Grief

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Photo Credit: My brother and sister-in-law and family saying “I love you” to Truitt in heaven.Simple Life Photography by Kathryn Bronn: www.simplelifeke.com

First, thank you for all of the encouraging feedback from my last post. Thank you for checking in with me and being what I need during this painful time. I realized after I wrote it how therapeutic and healing it was just being able to write that out. So I am going to keep writing.

Sometimes the hardest thing about grief is that the rest of the world moves on from it much sooner than the grieving one…as they should. But it doesn’t negate the fact that I am still struggling. I am recognizing a balance and I know it is the Grace of God. It is the reason I can go dancing, I can play games, I can cook dinner for others, I can work through the busyness at work, I can laugh with my friends…because the Joy that God gives does not depend on circumstances.

Let me back up to that balance thing.

I had a super emotional day last Sunday. I bawled during worship and cried every time someone hugged me. The rest of the day I tried to stay distracted by Netflix, but my chest physically hurt and I felt very lonely (my own choice at that point, because many people offered to be with me if I needed it).

But I sat in the pain and it was healing.

The next day, I was fine. I was motivated and busy at work and I got a lot done. The rest of this week has been like that. At first, I’m hesitant and guilt tries to sneak in: shouldn’t I be sad all the time? I’m still technically grieving…right?

The answer is yes. But if every day was like Sunday, I think I would go crazy.

I would stay in bed all day and wallow in the pain. Grief comes in waves…and that is by the grace of God. I am overly aware of the balance because I also know that if I keep myself so busy and do not take the time to confront the pain that is still there, I will explode later.

Last night I had almost 20 people over for dinner and then we worshiped. My heart so needed that. I’ve realized that in the presence of God, everything doesn’t have to make sense. When my eyes are on God, only the eternal things matter. His presence is the safest place to release my pain and let his nearness heal me. As Job 42:5 says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul

(Bethel Music – It Is Well”)

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Dinner night at my house!

What I Need to Hear When I’m Grieving

First let me disclaimer this by saying I think that everyone grieves differently. This has just been my personal experience as I have experienced the loss of my sister 6 years ago and now my 16-month old nephew a few weeks ago.

I can say with confidence that God is truly near to the brokenhearted…so let yourself be brokenhearted, but remember that you can still have joy in the heartache because we grieve as those who have hope. I do not write this to offend anyone or to shame them in any way. I am simply learning how to deal with the pain of life and want to invite you into my personal process.

“I’m sorry to hear about your [nephew]”

I know this sounds cliché and meaningless to say in the midst of someone’s tragedy and I completely understand that you don’t know what to say. But saying something is better than saying nothing. People have told me they don’t want to make me sad. But the truth is, I AM sad! And that is OK! Sadness is a real feeling and it’s meant to be felt. I certainly don’t want to stay there, but not allowing myself to feel sad is like pretending like nothing happened and that is much worse.

“How are you doing?”

This is a tricky one. I actually don’t like to answer this question in all honesty. However, I need to be asked this…especially early on when all I want to do is busy my mind and not think about it. But if you are going to ask me this, please genuinely care how I am doing and be ready to hear the truth. Also, you should be ready for a short answer at times too…I may be ready at times to talk about it, but there will be times when I am not ready and that needs to be OK too. I may not want to share if I don’t know you very well or if I’m just not in a mood to go there. But simply offering the opportunity is more meaningful than you know.

“I am praying for you and your family”

You have no idea how much prayer is felt. I truly believe that when people have prayed for me in the midst of tragedy, it brings the peace that passes all understanding. It also brings protection from hopelessness. If you say you are praying, I hope you mean it. I know this is an area I need to improve in…not just saying it but really doing it.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

I’m almost always NOT going to tell you what I need, because quite frankly, I have no idea what I need. So those who have just gone ahead and done the small things—paid for my drink, come over and sat with me, provided meals for my family, paid for our hotel room, organized my fundraiser, etc—these things have meant the world to me. It shows how much you care and I feel your love and comfort in very tangible ways.

I have found that these things are especially important in the early stages of grieving. I am still figuring out what I need as I go along, so thank you for being patient with me.  I welcome your feedback and personal experiences too.

I would also just like to say how proud I am of my brother Luke and his wife Brooke. They have led our family through this grief in such a healthy way. Thank you for walking so closely with God and allowing me to see how that looks in tragedy. I know that Truitt is with Jesus and with Aunt Abby. Heaven was missing him and we did not “lose” him…he is where he was created to be: whole and worshiping God. I can’t wait to join him someday, but until that day comes I will choose to let my weary soul rejoice that I was made for eternity.

I’m Coming Home!

Today marks 148 days in Pittsburgh…almost 5 full months. It has been a wild ride and some of the most challenging and rewarding times in my life. And I am still very confident of God’s call on my life to be here.

In fact, I have committed to another year at Urban Impact! (June 2014-June 2015)

One of the main reasons for this is because I still feel like I am laying a foundation here. I am still learning what Urban Impact is all about. And the more I learn about their vision and mission, the more excited I am to be a part of it! I also believe I am still trying to find my sweet spot…and can see that happening in a second year here.

And SO, I am coming home to Colorado for about a month in December! I cannot wait to catch up with family and friends. I am excited to rest and rejuvenate in the beautiful country that is Buena Vista, Colorado.

And I am also coming home to share stories of what God has done in me and through me in Pittsburgh. I am coming home to share my vision for the next year and a half. And I am coming home to raise more support.

Why do I raise financial support??

God has been re-confirming this idea in me as an incredible honor, rather than a scary obligation to get things done here. No, “raising financial support is far more than raising money. It is ministry. It is relationships. It is watching God work His eternal program for the ages in a practical way.” (People Raising by William P. Dillon)

Here are a few of the reasons I believe in support raising:

  • It IS ministry!

It’s not begging for money. It is sharing the vision God has placed on my heart. And then people are prompted and challenged to be a part of the Great Commission through me.

I truly believe God gives YOU credit for the fruit I bear. How cool is that?? We are a team!

  • It is Biblical!

About 700 direct statements in the Bible relate to wealth and finances. God talks a lot about stewardship and “often relates our use of wealth with our commitment to him.” (Dillon, 21) The Levites were the first missionaries God set apart to do His work at the Tent of Meeting. They had no income but that of which was provided by God’s people. (Exodus 25, Numbers 8, Deuteronomy 14:27)

  • It stretches my faith!

We rarely grow when things are easy. Asking for financial support is hard…it really pushes me out of my comfort zone. But then it forces me to be dependent on God, remembering that He is my provider FIRST! I cannot put my trust in man, but I can trust My God, who will prompt the hearts of those He is calling to give.

  • Prayer follows financial support

Sometimes I take for granted how powerful prayer is. But if I did not have the base of prayer support, I would not have the strength to carry on. When people are investing in me financially, it also alerts the importance of prayer.

SO, I fly home to Colorado on December 14! I fly back to Pittsburgh on January 7.

I have reserved December 23-31st to rest and spend time with family and friends. The other days I would like to spend meeting with you(DEC 16-DEC 21 and JAN 1-JAN 6). I want to speak at church, I want to take you to coffee or a meal, I want to have a dinner nights or worship nights where I can share the vision God has given me. And I want you to be a part of it! If God does not call you to give, then don’t! But I would be honored to get the chance for you to listen and pray.

I will be contacting some of you personally to set times up. But if you would like to contact me to set time up, please let me know! My contact information is below.

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Girls Bible Study that I help lead. I LOVE these girls so much!

“The fact that we are workers together, sharing our various resources—including money—to achieve goals for God…” is incredible work for the Kingdom! Thank you for prayerfully considering how God is asking to be a part.

Ruth Cortese

719-640-8040

ruth.cortese@yahoo.com

Support Update: Before my last Newsletter (sent October 18, 2013), I needed about $4,500 to finish out my first year’s salary of about $29,000 at UI. Since then, I have received 3 more monthly pledges totaling $60 of new monthly support. That adds up to $720 for a year! This puts me well under $4000, Praise God! I will be communicating next year’s salary goals as I learn those numbers from Urban Impact.

Fall Snapshot!

I apologize for being so sporadic with updates. I’m all of the sudden super busy again and Fall programs at Urban Impact are in full swing.

I am finally feeling settled in…it only took about 4 months, haha. I don’t have a solid church home yet, but community is starting to happen. Pittsburgh is slowly becoming “home,” although I think it will take me years to learn about all the small divisions of townships/communities that make up the whole of Pittsburgh (for example…I live in Pittsburgh, but on the North Side in Perry hilltop off of Perrysville Ave)…its very confusing but I am learning (the story of my life lately).

Here is what I get to do this fall at Urban Impact:

  •  The Middle School/High School Choir happens on Tuesdays where I make sure kids get to the right place and be an active role model as we learn and sing songs. I also will co-lead Monday Bible study with girls from the choir.
  • The Option Resource Center is a pilot program at Perry High School where we will mentor about 60 seniors and help them make a plan for their future. We will be at the school all day on Wednesdays so that we are available to meet with students and support guidance counselors. Perry has opened their doors to Urban Impact and it is a great opportunity to reach more kids.
  • Finally, Thursday is the Performing Arts Academy! This is an after school program that runs from 4:30-8pm where kids can participate in Art, Ballet, Praise Dance, Children’s Choir, Guitar, Bucket Band, Acting or Improv classes…to name a few. This is offered for 1st grade to 12th grade. I will be in charge of the elementary and middle school/high school buildings and will support volunteers and teachers with anything they need.
  • Fridays are catch-up and support-raising days. I also help lead another bible study in the evening for our Shakes program girls.

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Clockwise from top left: The choir praying out the night. Me and my buddy Ransom. Performing Arts Academy’s children’s choir. 

Most days after program I get home and think “What just Happened?” It is chaotic at times and happens so fast…and yet it happens! Kids come and are loved, hear the gospel, learn or improve upon a skill and ultimately God is glorified. I love being a part of it and am starting to get a handle on how to make things run smoothly.

Oh, and on the side, I’ve been asked to help teach lindy hop (my favorite type of swing dancing!) lessons every Monday night (after bible study). I will also teach some private lessons on Wednesday nights. AND, I get paid! This just basically fell into place after going to Swing City…a really cool dance venue in Pittsburgh. I’m so excited about this and am actually learning how to teach as I go…another challenge, but one I love!

God is such an awesome provider for His kids.

 

**Support Note: I still need about $4,000 to reach my yearly goal salary through June 2014 (and then possibly beyond!). Reoccurring support is most helpful at this point, but ANY donations keep me here doing life on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Will you pray about investing in me…but more importantly the Kingdom work happening in Pittsburgh?? Please do not give out of obligation or guilt but out of a desire to be part of building God’s kingdom.

You can donate by clicking the link on the left side of this page. Thank you!!!

Uncomfortable With Comfort

“My flesh wants to settle for mediocre, but my spirit won’t let me!”

My friend Angelo said that this morning.

This resonates so deeply in me, and I think this yearning for something more radical started by doing the World Race.  (http://ruthcortese.theworldrace.org/)

Maybe it really started after Abby died. My life was turned upside-down and the Lord began whispering that I was called to do radical things too, like Abby. Abby’s life mirrored radical living for Christ and that girl took more risks in 21 years of life than most people take in 80 years. And after the Lord took her, I knew I could not settle for mediocre any longer.

ruth n abby may 2008

Abby and I in 2008

And so, the World Race took me out of everything comfortable and began this journey.  I thought maybe that was good enough and I had done my “crazy adventure,” but God probably laughed at that. He even let me stay in Buena Vista for a year to get me ready. (Don’t get me wrong, BV was not always comfortable and I grew so much in that year too…but the comforts of family and community and security were enough for me to see it was time to go.)

And then I came to Pittsburgh.

I know I have said the summer was difficult and I do not want it to keep coming across as complaining. Now I am able to look at it from a better perspective…I can see how much I’ve grown in just 3 months. The combination of starting somewhere new without community (I am a high extrovert), jumping into a job (where at times I have no idea what I am doing) that kept me super busy, and feeling very homesick and lonely left me wondering if I made the right decision. But as I zoom out and look back, I can see that all the stretching this summer is what brought the growth.

And I never want to quit growing! I cannot settle for mediocre and stop growing. For,

these (trials and stretching) have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)

And so, yes, this new season has been difficult, but I can honestly say I am thankful for it.

I came because I was called,

I was called because it is uncomfortable, and

it is uncomfortable because sometimes that’s where Jesus decides to work…or at least where I see it in my life most.

So I am ready to jump into fall programs at Urban Impact…it is shaping up to be a busy one! If you want to hear more about my role and such, send me your email or address and I will put you on my Newsletter list.

Disclaimer: Before you think I am just sad and lonely all the time…I am making friends. I have found a place to swing dance (praise the Lord), I’m going salsa dancing next week and am connected with a great young adults group. I am still looking for a home church and your prayers there would be much appreciated.  Thank you for your encouragement over the past few months…your prayers are felt.

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**Support Note: I still need about $8,000 to reach my yearly goal salary through June 2014 (and then possibly beyond!). Reoccurring support is most helpful at this point, but ANY donations keep me here doing life on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Will you pray about investing in me…but more importantly the Kingdom work happening in Pittsburgh?? Please do not give out of obligation or guilt but out of a desire to be part of building God’s kingdom.

You can donate by clicking the link on the left side of this page. Thank you!!!

A “Shaky” Summer

I can breathe again!

I know that sounds dramatic, but I have been working alongside some very dramatic kids all summer and they have definitely rubbed off on me. J For those who don’t know, I have been working with the Shakes program this summer! It is basically a bunch of kids (age 14-19) performing Shakespeare. But it is so much more than that. It is A LOT of work too.

These kids not only attend rehearsal from 10-4 during the week, but also help build the set, attend and help lead Bible study, and take English/diction/Shakespeare lessons to put on a professional-level show. And when I say we help build the set…I mean several platforms, walls and an 11-foot tree made out of two-by-fours, chicken wire, broken musical instruments and enough paper mache to build a small house! It took many long nights and weekends to get that baby together. It was a team effort for sure but looked incredible in the performance.

the tree

Their big performances happened this week at the New Hazlett Theatre here on the North Side. I had the pleasure of doing some marketing for the show and selling tickets. Turns out, I CAN do some administrative stuff and it definitely forced my highly extrovert unorganized self to become more ordered.  This year about 500 people came out to see the show on Tuesday and Wednesday! This was almost double of who could even fit in the theatre used last summer!

It was so rewarding to watch the kids perform and see all the hard work pay off. How easy it is to lose sight of the reward. And the coolest part of the show is that it presents the gospel in a very unique way. Throughout the performance, 4 different kids stop the show and everyone freezes. They break out of character and give a short testimony of how they are relating to their character and how God has changed their lives. Then at the end of the show, the director presents the gospel and invites a response. We may never know what seeds were planted, but God does and He is changing hearts. These kids are reaching a unique community that may never step foot into a church but who will step into a theatre. God gets all the glory and it is beautiful.

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I hit some walls and had some dark moments these past 2 months. I’m homesick for sure and I miss having community. But God is teaching me to depend on Him and how to be bold in uncomfortable places. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” hits much deeper than it used to. But as I look back at the craziness of the past 8 weeks (it feels like 2 years have passed), I can’t help but think how each kid in Shakes have made this whole thing worth it.

Marlo and Tiffany and I got to spend the most time together…leading worship and having Bible Study on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Those girls taught ME a lot.

Marlo Ruth tiff glasses

Marlo, Me and Tiffany working on the set

Then there is Angelo, J’Quay, JB and Tylique. These guys made me feel so welcome from day 1. Tylique’s first words to me were “oh! I really like your teeth! They are really nice.” Haha. Angelo reminded me half way through that the Lord has indeed called me here and that I need to tell Satan that I am not going anywhere, no matter how hard things seem. JB and J’Quay never failed to make me laugh and J’Quay’s love of the Wobble will forever make us friends.

Jquay JB Angelo and Tylique

From Left to Right: J’Quay, JB, Tylique and Angelo

Kaitlyn, Calema and Melanie also taught me so much this summer…especially in Bible study. They ask the best questions about the Word and are so hungry to be close to Jesus.

Mel and Calema Marlo Kaitlyn

Melanie and Calema, Marlo and Kaitlyn

 Tiger, Tyler, Ransom, Reggie and Michael’s endless hugs kept me going some days….not to mention the many nicknames and variations of Ruth, Ruthykins, Foofy, The Foof, etc.

Tiger, Reg, tyler Ransom michael

Tiger, Reggie, Ransom, Tiffany, Tyler and Michael

If nothing else happened this summer, the fact that I got to know each of these kids made it all worthwhile. I can now look at the Fall and get excited about what is next. I get to teach some dance classes, help with choir, choreograph the spring musical (never done that before!) and be an admin person for the Options Program (helping kids after high school get connected to college, military, jobs, etc).

I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me, who have called, emailed, and texted to let me know you were thinking of me. The Lord has reminded me through you that no matter how lonely I feel, I always have this incredible support system behind me lifting me up in prayer. I am so honored to have YOU doing ministry with me here!

 

**Support Note: I still need about $8,000 to reach my yearly goal salary through June 2014 (and then possibly beyond!). Reoccurring support is most helpful at this point, but ANY donations keep me here doing life on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Will you pray about investing in me…but more importantly the Kingdom work happening in Pittsburgh?? Please do not give out of obligation or guilt but out of a desire to be part of building God’s kingdom.

You can donate by clicking the link on the left side of this page. Thank you!!!

What It’s Like Being the “New Girl”

I left Colorado one month ago and have officially been in Pittsburgh for 3 weeks.

I’m officially the “new girl” in town, at the new job and at church…and I kinda hate it.

Before I start complaining…er…I mean, explaining…let me tell you how awesome Urban Impact is and how excited I am to be a part of this ministry! In short, I get to work with the Shakes program this summer. Shakes is a drama program that not only performs a Shakespeare play, but also a program that develops the character of each individual in the Lord. The play also presents the gospel in a unique way. I am in charge of student interns…making sure they eat, leading their Bible studies, and doing other behind-the-scenes stuff. I love it! I love the kids, the staff and the program. I truly feel honored to be here.

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Pictures from left: Angelo and JB goofing around per usual/ Building sets for the play, Much Ado About Nothing” / Tiffany and I.

Now, most of you who know me, know that I am a high extrovert and I love to be around people. I love community and I thrive in it. And so, you can imagine that it has been difficult living alone (ish) and being the new girl, not really knowing anyone yet. Nights and weekends so far are spent by myself at my apartment. Here are some words that I am currently learning:

  • Dependency
  • Humility
  • Vulnerability
  • Patience
  • Intentionality

Dependency, because I am learning to depend on God more than ever in the midst of feeling lonely.

Humility, because it is very humbling to put yourself out there and jump into new church groups or friend groups that you don’t really know. ‘

Vulnerability, because this is where community really starts. It allows connections that last and that need each other.

Patience, because it’s only been 3 weeks and I can’t expect that community will just happen. Give it time, keep getting out there, but also learn to appreciate the quiet times.

Intentionality, because in those quiet times I am learning to listen for what Jesus is saying instead of constantly busying myself with media. Enjoy this special season with just you and Jesus.

So, yes, being the new girl kinda sucks. But I am also pretty excited for the growth that will come from it.

I am still extremely confident that this is where I am supposed to be right now.

I know the Lord has provided for me to get here and will continue to do so.

I love my job and I love this new opportunity for so much growth in the Lord. I am already learning new things about Him….I love that this is an endless process.

 

Thanks for your prayers and support! I’ll be writing a support update soon as well as sending out a newsletter. Let me know if you want me to email you one or send it via snail mail!

The Funny Thing About Timing

Timing is funny. I think that is what I have learned and am learning the most on this “journey to Pittsburgh.” I often say that I trust God’s timing, but I have been so worried about when I should be there. Or when I should really be ready to jump into an adventure like this. Or when the money will come in.

And yet, here I am. Sitting in Pittsburgh on June 9th…exactly one year since I returned from the World Race. Working with Urban Impact in Pittsburgh has been about 11 months in the making…which is funny because the World Race was also 11 months!  I’m over 80% funded for this next year. I live 5 minutes from the Urban Impact offices and right in the middle of the community and people we are called to reach. I have had moments where I think “What was I thinking?! Starting in a totally new place where I know maybe 3 people?!” But then I also am reminded that I’m exactly where God has called me.

Image My living room of the new apartment I get to live in!

I’m nervous and excited about starting a new job but confident that God is equipping me for today. Tomorrow has enough to worry about. And yesterday was awesome. Let’s look back at “yesterday” real quick…

As I returned from the Race, I could not imagine how I would ever be able to live in Buena Vista again for more than a couple months. But after just 2 months there, it was clear that that was I where I would be until the Lord moved me into the next thing…which I thought would be dance school in Dallas. So I decided to jump into the community of BV…and how surprised I was to find such blessing! I made life-long friends, I got to know and love high school students, I found an incredible group of ladies to study God’s word and encourage one another, I worked in an incredible coffee shop and loved my job and the people I interacted with each day. And after almost a year in BV, I was so sad to leave!

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 Top: Me clocking out of The Roastery for the last time

 Bottom: the magnificent Mt Princeton…no filter, taken from my phone outside the gym.

But looking back, I realize how perfect God’s timing was for me there. I would have never slowed down as much as BV made me. I would have never been poured into so much and been so prepared for the crazy life of Pittsburgh. I would have never gotten to know the awesome personality of my nephew Adriel, or seen Brooke’s cute belly for baby #2, or gotten to have family dinners with the Cortese clan on a regular basis. I also would have never met Libby Nye, Susie Saxman, Mack Maschmeier, Tom, Tom, Zach, Katelyn, Emily, Clayton, Kait, Kate, Ed, Kelly, Lauren…to name a few of the awesome community I found. This will always be home and I am so thankful for that.

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So I just want to say thank you.

Thank you to those of you who supported me in many ways. So many donated so generously (even when I didn’t give you a support letter). I would not be here without your donations and I am continuously humbled by your sacrifices.

Many of you simply believed in me. You spoke words like, “I believe in you,” “You are going to be great at that,” “If God has called you He will equip you.” These encouragements kept me going and have helped me believe in myself. Thank you for being the voice of God right when I needed it most.

Many of you have committed to pray for me. I feel so covered and protected by your prayers. Please don’t stop…I truly believe this will make the difference in the daily ministry I get to be a part of.

So here we go! I recently received my official “job description” for the summer. I get to work with the summer Shakes program…which kids act out Shakespeare plays in several different places throughout the summer. I will get to work with the set, lead student intern Bible studies, coordinate ticket sales and food, and book/event coordinate for the Singers program. It was also mentioned that I will have the opportunity to choreograph some of the dances in school plays/musicals later this year. I feel so humbled and honored to get to be a part of this ministry!

We are just getting started so I hope you will continue on this journey with me. And will you do me a favor?

PLEASE EMAIL ME AT ruth.cortese@yahoo.com AND LET ME KNOW HOW YOU PREFER TO STAY UPDATED! Here are your options:

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–Simply click the little “+Follow” button that appears at the bottom, left corner of the blog. It will ask for your email address, you will get a confirmation email and then you will only receive emails when I update the blog. My goal is to update at least 2 times a month, if not more.

2. Receive a digital newsletter by email.

–send me your email address please!

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 I am honored to walk this journey with all of you that have supported me! Stay tuned for another support update in the next few weeks.

Support Update!

As I sit here writing Thank-You notes, I am so blown away…and, well, thankful! In fact, I just ran out of thank-you cards because so many of you have responded. I am so encouraged by God’s faithfulness and people’s generosity!

So here is a quick support update:

When I wrote my last blog 2-ish weeks ago, I was at about $1000.

I was really struggling to see this becoming a reality in April as I hoped.

I was discouraged, and so I was honest with God and had to confess my mistrust.

And since then, I feel Like God has said, smiling, “Thank you for finally trusting me and allowing me to work. Now sit down and watch how I am providing for you.”

So, since my last blog, I have received approximately $13,000 in donations and recurring pledges. What?!

That is over half of the amount I need to get started in Pittsburgh and about 48% of what I need for a year of salary! This came from some anonymous donors (thank you for pledging $125 every month!), some unexpected donors, some strangers and some incredible friends.

I am blessed and humbled.

So here are the numbers again and where I am now:

Total Yearly Salary needed: $28,995

Total needed to leave CO and head to PA: $21,600

Total given/pledged: $13,410 (this is a rough estimate)

Amount still needed to fulfill yearly salary goal: $15, 585

 Again, here are some ways I can reach that goal for the rest of the year:

  • If 38 people pledge $30/month for a year or more. Or,
  • If 23 people pledged $50/month for a year or more. Or,
  • If 17 people pledged $75/month for a year or more. Or,
  • Or if 10 people pledged $75/month and 16 people pledged $25/month

You get the picture. Again, I ask that you pray about if and how much God would like you to give. I do not want any donations given out of guilt or obligation but rather out of a desire to invest in what God is calling me into.  It is an immense honor to work in God’s kingdom and it would be a pleasure to know you are working alongside me financially and spiritually in prayer.

So thank you thank you thank you for your support!  And may God bless you tenfold.