Jane Aubrey

Yesterday was the most awesome day.

It started in church two weeks ago when I met two girls from the Jane Aubrey House. (The Jane Aubrey House is the first Recovery Home that Grace purchased in January of 2016.) One of the girls was brand new to the home. She was young, 18, and had been there two days. I asked her name and wrote it on the board in our office. I prayed for her. I told the rest of the team about her.

I saw her worshiping. She was new to all this, but wore her heart on her sleeve and sang to the God she hoped was real.

Two weeks later, after a powerful message on forgiveness, and after watching several people get baptized, the band played “O come to the Altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

She came forward. I happened to be up front and saw her right away. She was crying, ready and believing in Jesus as Lord. She couldn’t stay after service because the other girls were waiting to go to an NA meeting. I gave her a Bible and got her number.

Long story short, we met last night at the Jane Aubrey House. She told me her story, and how she was ready to confess Christ. We prayed, angels rejoiced, and another precious daughter of the King was adopted into the family.

We are coming up on three years since Jane Aubrey died. Looking back on her story, I’m reminded that what we see as the end, isn’t the end. God writes the most amazing true stories, and makes beauty from ashes. Jane’s story is still being told, for his honor and eternal glory. I am forever changed.

If you’d like to see Jane Aubrey’s story, as told by her mom, watch this video.

Her Burn Letter

This letter was written by a real young women who lives at the Jane Aubrey House. #reasonsforHopeFirst


Dearest You,

Well hello again. I wasn’t expecting to ever see or speak to you again, but fortunately for me and unlike many others you’ve met, I have the chance to say a few final words. Plus I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately – the good, bad, the happy and sad. I sometimes find myself fantasizing about you and reminiscing on all the times we used to spend together.

Remember the first time we met? Mikey introduced us and he spoke so highly of you. He told me that I would like you – but he also warned me not to get too close. Not that it had made much difference; I became infatuated with you almost instantly. The way you were able to make me forget about all of my problems and how you filled my soul with warmth and confidence. I tried to control the infatuation I had with you and take Mikey’s advise on not getting too close by only seeing you a couple times a week – but just like everyone else who has met you – I fell a victim under your spell.

How about the first time we got intimate, do you remember that? Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love you anymore than I did, you gave me a rush I’ve never experienced before; the kind that took over my entire mind, body, and soul. I’ll never be able to forget that feeling or get the picture out of my head. It’s like you won’t let me forget it. You haunt me in my dreams. For the prick of my skin, the blood in the syringe, my head falling back in slow motion as I exhale that calming almost still breath. Only I don’t make it out alive, so these dreams are more like nightmares, you see?

And what’s it been now, almost three years since we met? Sheesh time sure flew by huh? I never realized how much I was changing as each day went by, but looking back now, everything is so different. Nothing ever seemed as bad when we were together. I thought that as long as I had you, nothing could really go that wrong…but it did.

You tore me down and took the best of me, you took what was left of me – my confidence, my self-worth, my happiness, my friends, family, and my home – leaving me sad, broken, and alone. Anything I valued was consumed by you; our relationship was just one big catch-22. Everything in which you first gave to me you had eventually took back from me and more. There’s one thing that’s been bothering me, that’s been weighing down on me for sure – you took Mikey from me too – you know the one who I mentioned before; I’m still mourning his death and it’s another big reason why I’m letting go.

Saying goodbye to you isn’t all that easy, but at the same time it’s what I had to do; and now I’m taking the chance to start my life over new. That’s right, I’m breaking those chains you had holding me hostage to you. So if you are wondering how I’m doing, don’t ask me; just let me be – because in the first time in a long time, I finally feel free.

Addiction and the Capstone Celebration

Friday night I went to a Capstone Celebration for people in recovery. This is kind of like a graduation from treatment, but they don’t call it that because addiction never really lets you graduate…you just reach milestones of learning tools to live beyond it. I saw a couple dozen beautiful people who struggle hard with addiction but have taken steps to turn their lives around. They had received inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment and reached a sobriety milestone. Two of those people were young women from the Jane Aubrey House.

One of those girls, Amanda, is pregnant.

It made me think how far addiction’s reach is. And more importantly, how far recovery’s reach is. Amanda found hope at the Jane Aubrey House, that hope extends to her parents, her siblings, her friends and beyond…to her unborn child, and her future children.

This stirs me deep inside. To know that what I gave to, what this church is doing, is reaching so far. God is changing the direction of lives for eternity. Thank God for the Jane Aubrey House. Thank God for hope. Thank God for the way He brings us in, and uses us for His glory.

Five Things You May Not Know About Celebrate Recovery

Passionate people come hungry to learn. Passionate people are contagious. Their faith can’t help but overflow as they pour out what God is pouring into them. They are purpose driven. Passionate people thrive on seeing other people thrive. Passionate people are absolutely magnetic.

I visited Celebrate Recovery (CR) for the first time last week and I can tell you that you can’t help but be drawn to the people and the movement that is happening there. Though I was familiar with many aspects of the program, there were parts that honestly surprised me. The parts that you can only see for yourself.. firsthand.. rather than hearing about them. Here’s a quick bird’s eye view:

1) Honesty in struggle connects people quickly.

It is often the case that people think that if others knew what they had done or what they’re currently doing, they wouldn’t be able to handle it. Maybe they’d be judged? Maybe they’d be told they’re not welcome in a “Christ-centered” program?! This is a place created specifically so that those who take the first step to come are met with an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. We can’t fix you, but we know who can. Scoot on in next to me and let’s do this together. The connection is tangible and the sense of belonging is instant.

2) It is both Christ-centered and a safe place to come as you are spiritually.

I did not get the impression whatsoever that anyone was going to take a holier-than-though stance with anyone else. Everybody is rowing in the same boat of admitting their struggles and also admitting they are works in progress. This is a biblically-centered program so Jesus will be present in the conversation, the teaching, the testimonies and the steps. However, Jesus will also be present in the people who love you where you are, instead of casting stones to condemn you if you’re still figuring out where you are spiritually.

3) It is just as much for the family member’s support, as it is for the ones struggling with hurts, habits or hang-ups.

Many of you may be familiar with AA and Al-Anon. One is for the one struggling and the latter for the people affected. I am encouraged to see that CR is for everyone. I think someone whose spouse is in a dark place would be helped by going even if their mate wasn’t open to it yet or ever. What you find when you walk through the doors is that we could all benefit from CR as we all have our issues. We all struggle with being defined by things done to us or choices we made along the way. Knowing that we cannot save or fix our loved ones, sometimes getting in a place of healing ourselves and taking the first step could be what eventually leads them to walk through the door alongside us.

4) Recovering physically (such as quitting drinking) is a goal, but not the ultimate goal.

Though there is a great mood of celebration as chips are given out for everything from 24 hours to decades of having recovered physically, it is clear that everyone’s recovery is without definitive end. Spiritually and emotionally there are phases of recovery that continue for years after the last drop of alcohol is drunk or the last day of depression is felt. We can’t forget that people are coming to find hope for so much more than addiction. Anger, sexual integrity, depression etc. No matter what it is, we are not suddenly “out of the woods” because a behavior is no longer present.

5) While the thought you enter with at first may be, “I’m not sure I’m ready for anyone to know about this.” The thought you leave with is often, “I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner!”

There is a great verse in Romans that says: “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12). When you enter a space where people are being set free from bondage, where people are opening up their hearts and their lives to each other, where they can begin to see God’s power and promises overtake the lies they’ve been believing…you just can’t help but want to go back for seconds. Load my life up with some of that!

In conclusion, I just want to say that I’m glad I visited. It was time well spent. Whether it be Celebrate Recovery or the HopeFirst initiative that is raising money to purchase recovery homes throughout Washoe County to help people with addictions find hope and healing, I am excited that our church has looked at our community and decided to punch addiction in the throat.

Q&A: HopeFirst

Last Sunday, several people texted in questions about HopeFirst. Because we didn’t get to all the questions, here are some answers.

Q: Who decided on HopeFirst as an initiative for Grace?
A: In 2015, Pastor Dan was asked to speak at memorial for Jane Aubrey, who had passed away from an accidental drug overdose. That encounter opened his eyes to the problem of addiction in our city, which resulted in the Jane Aubrey House as our Year-end gift. God blessed that initiative, which led to the idea of HopeFirst. Leaders prayed it through, then presented to a wider circle of leaders. Revisions were made based on feedback. Then came more prayer, then a plan. Elders approved that plan, and HopeFirst was a go.

Q: Will HopeFirst be the focus of 2017?
A: HopeFirst will be a part of what we do in 2017, but the gospel will be the focus. Everything we do is to ultimately point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have just finished a heavy focus on HopeFirst, as we just completed the initial launch. Now, communication will be much less focused, but we will celebrate milestones, and keep you up to date on where we are and what the plan is as houses are built, etc.

Q: If you exceed your goal, what will you do with the extra money?
A: What a great problem that would be! We would continue to give half the money away for building treatment homes for people struggling with addiction, and use the other half to pour into more room for families at Grace.

Q: How much will each house cost and how many residents will occupy each house? Will there be children there?
A: We expect the cost of each house to be around $300,000 and have budgeted another $200,000 for remodel and support for the first three months of operation. These numbers are estimates as the market is unpredictable, but we will release the money for purchase in $500,000 increments. So far, there are no plans for children to be in the homes.

Q: Will the homes be run with a biblical teaching and support?
A: The homes will be managed by Ridge House, which is a faith founded but secular organization. They are a federally funded program, so they cannot require faith-based teaching. However, they are excited to work with Celebrate Recovery to give residents options to go to CR meetings, where Jesus will be proclaimed as the one true hope against addiction. They will also support pastors and leaders entering the homes and talking with residents.

Q: Will we see an itemized list of what the money was used for from HopeFirst? Number of houses, parking lot cost, etc.?
A: We will have this information available for those who wish to see it. There will be a complete accounting for all moneys spent.

Q: Originally you said we needed to raise and pledge $6 million to get the bank construction financing and go ahead with HopeFirst. We are almost 1 million short today yet in this week’s letter Dan said we are just weeks away from our first home purchase. That seems like you are breaking your first promise.
A: Actually, our promise was that we would wait to see what the results were before moving forward with the building. All along, the first priority was that, no matter how much we raised, we would move forward with giving half away, in $500,000 increments, to fight addiction. We are not breaking, but keeping our promise.

Q: What is the estimate of amount needed for HopeFirst from each church member?
A: Great question, but hard to answer. As in Exodus 35, we believe God calls all of us to give according to what we have. Some gave gold, some gave goat hair. God calls all of us to give at different levels, but we believe He calls all of us to give.

Q: For those that come on Monday’s to Celebrate Recovery, is there transportation available?
A: Ridge House will provide that transportation.

Q: How many people will live in each home? Will there be a Host couple that lives there indefinitely?
A: Most houses will be gender specific and there will be House Manager in each home 24/7. Each house will accommodate at least 6 people in recovery in addition to the House Manager. Ridge House also has a staff of counselors and other support roles who will work with the residents as the move toward recovery.

Q: What does the bible say about debt? Would you advise your church to give to HopeFirst if they’re in debt?
A: The bible neither expressly condones or forbids debt. It does say to pay your debts, and forgive your debtors. We certainly wouldn’t want you to go into debt to give to HopeFirst, but if you can manage your monthly debt payments, and give, or give up something you love to give in another way, that would be awesome!

Q: Only one quarter of grace families have contributed to HopeFirst. How are you reaching out to the other three quarters and listening to their concerns?
A: One way is by writing this blog. Another is face to face and phone calls. We are answering everyone who asks! If you have a question, email HopeFirst@gracechurchreno.org and we will do our best to answer you!

Remember that we all on a journey toward Jesus, and we aren’t all in the same place on that journey. One thing’s for sure, generosity moves you closer on that road to who God wants you to be!

Why I believe in HopeFirst – Ashley’s Story

I started attending services in 2013 after my fiancé lost his life to suicide and addiction at the age of 28. He left my son, Chase, who was 3 at the time, and me to pick up the pieces. He didn’t mean to hurt us – he was very sick with his addiction. Being the fiancé, I was left to emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially fend for my young child and myself. I went back to work (sole proprietor) the day after his service and had no choice but to get out of bed every day and pretend to be okay. One foot in front of the other and a day at a time I made my way through the ups and downs of grief. My voice was barely a whisper for weeks and a forced smile hid the brokenness deep within my heart and soul. Shortly thereafter, I began to attend Grace. At first it was every once in a while, and in time my Sundays at Grace became more and more consistent. I just came in, and took a seat ☺. Grace was one of the only places I felt at peace during a time of such turmoil. I would check Chase into the Grace Kids and find myself a place to hide in the back. Grace was one of the only places I felt I could be honest with myself about my pain. I cried myself through many services. I strongly connected with the worship music and with Pastor Dan’s message. Many times I have felt that he was speaking directly to me.

Grace was and still is my safe haven. As a small child I remember attending a church like Grace. I remember a time around the age of four where I went into my bedroom closet and asked Jesus into my heart over and over again. I also attended Christian summer camps as a pre-teen. I believe that this foundation is what got me back to the church in a time where I needed guidance back to Jesus. When friends, acquaintances or whomever question my faith or share with me that they are non-believers, I always ask them one question. “When things in life go badly, as they sometimes do, what do you tell your children when you don’t have the answers? Without faith, how do you explain all of the bad things in this world? How do you get through that without faith.” If I didn’t have the foundation from my childhood, I don’t believe I would have made it through that challenging time in my life. I certainly don’t know how I would have explained it to my son. For this reason, I am very passionate about HopeFirst. I believe in the values Grace is helping to instill in our children. I believe in setting the foundation from a young age so that later in life, when they’re a 26 year old girl living with an alcohol-addicted fiancé, and her intuition is telling her that something is very wrong, that she may turn to prayer for the first time in years. I believe in HopeFirst so that when her heart is so broken and guilt ridden and she has nowhere else to go, she will turn to that foundation of her childhood and find her way back into the church and her faith will slowly begin mending her broken heart.

Addiction took the love of my life at the young age of 28. My foundation in faith in Jesus is what saved mine.


Ashley is first and foremost mother to Chase who’s 8 years old. She runs her own business and has attended Grace for 3 years.

Mosaic of Misfits: From Rooted to HopeFirst

This week marks the end of the Fall Rooted class at Grace and boy did we all walk in a wounded bunch. From family crisis to life-threatening health issues, from addiction to those hurt by the church, we were a mosaic of misfits (or at least my group was)!

Last Sunday, Pastor Dan suggested we ask God to shift our lives to be used by God and posed the question:

“What do we need to make room for?

In the case of our Rooted group, we decided to make room in our schedules for the 10-week class. To sacrifice our time for the potential to go deeper with the Lord, for the possibility of connecting with people and finding a church home. God blessed that over those 10 weeks and we now not only feel like family, but can’t wait to continue learning, growing and serving as a group at Grace.

Pastor Dan also told us that shifting is about “laying down what’s good for what’s great.” To this the lyrics of the Jonny Diaz song called “Breathe” came to mind:

“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best…”

As we transition into becoming a home group, we have begun to ask the question of what we will do as a group, as well as individually, to support Grace’s new audacious and huge HopeFirst initiative.

Some initial brainstorms…

We have looked at where help is still needed for the upcoming Discover Events and HopeFirst Day. As we have all been uniquely impacted by addiction, we have a special soft spot for seeing those six houses for recovering addicts become a reality. As parents, we have a desire to see God move in our city through a new building to welcome children to hear about Jesus.

In the meantime, we have discussed having a dinner together as a group where each couple brings one item to contribute in order to assemble bags we can hand out to the homeless we encounter in our community. Warm socks, snacks, chapstick, toothbrushes and the like.

As an individual, I’ve considered having a garage sale with proceeds going to HopeFirst. I also made the decision to wear a family heirloom ring on my left hand ring finger and sell my wedding ring in order to donate towards HopeFirst.

As the holiday season draws near, the mood around Grace Church is less about making a Christmas list of new stuff we want this year and more a time of contemplation of what we can sacrifice so that others can get what they need…of seeing their spiritual and felt needs met.

I challenge anyone reading this to ask themselves the same question. And for the guy thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend, I’ve got just the gorgeous, princess cut solitaire ring for you to buy…and the money you spend could change a person’s life!

Lexi King is a mom of 3 and a deliriously smitten wife. She is passionate about encouraging and connecting women, writing, music, Jesus and queso…not necessarily in that order.

Take Action

On Sunday September 25, we showed a video of a guy named Jeff. He struggles with addiction, but had lived sober for 15 years. He had a wife and four kids, a house and a good job. After 15 years of sobriety, he slipped. He thought he could use again and fell into a downward spiral of drug use and illegal activity to support that drug use. After several months on that path, he was arrested. That saved his life.

When we showed that video at Grace, there was someone at church who knew Jeff. He had worked with him in the construction business but didn’t know of Jeff’s struggles with addiction. He reached out to Grace to find out how to connect with Jeff and the two connected by phone. Jeff is meeting with this Grace guy soon, and the hope is that he can help Jeff make amends with his former employer, and support him through whatever’s next.

This busy guy took action. He wants to help Jeff walk with God. He didn’t run from this possibly awkward relationship. He ran to it. No matter the consequence of Jeff’s relapse, this guy will support Jeff in his recovery. He’s taking the time to love Jeff like Jesus.

This is sacrificial living. Another #ReasonforHopeFirst.

Watch Jeff’s story here.

Karen is a wife to Dave and mom to Laura Lee, Daniel and daughter-in-law Audrey. She’s the Creative Director at Grace and has been involved at Grace for over 20 years.

The Man in the Van

On September 24th, 2016, I came across a suspicious van parked behind a shopping center with a man inside of it. If my suspicions were correct, it was my intention to have the man arrested and the van towed. This guy didn’t have a driver’s license and the van was uninsured and unregistered. I soon learned that the man was homeless and that all he owned was in the van with him. I further learned that none of my initial suspicions were valid. While I still had enough reason to at least tow the van, I was oddly filled with compassion for the homeless man and did not move forward with any action at all. How could I, knowing that I would be going home to a warm home and loving family, and all my “stuff,” and he would be stuck there in the van. I was able to express my decision to those working with me during this circumstance and they too agreed that it was overall the best option to not press negative consequences on this person.

On this past Sunday, I attended services at Grace and heard Pastor Dan speak about compassion. I immediately thought of the day prior and felt pretty good about myself in this area- considering that I could have caused a major negative shift in the trajectory of the life of the man in the van. Then, in hearing Pastor Dan speak the Word, and reading the text for myself, I was overcome with the reality that my sense of compassion for people is minimal and that Jesus’ was maximal. I felt the need to have maximum compassion… to do the most I could do in a circumstance, not the least.

Throughout the rest of Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday, the man in the van weighed heavy on my heart. I had the knowledge and the ability to help the man maximally. I knew all of the steps necessary to help him with a driver’s license – to the extent that he would qualify to get one – and could help him with insurance and even registration for the van. It might take actually driving him to several locations over several days or weeks; spending time with him and helping him study for a drivers test; spending money on insurance and fees and fines. It would most certainly take me down from my comfortable perch and into the valley where he lived…where the shadows live; where darkness is. It would be…difficult, awkward, smelly, annoying – with no guarantee that I would even be able to help him at all.

On my way to work Monday morning I made the decision to drive back behind the shopping center and actually show compassion to the man. To do the things that were impressed upon me. To help. As I got closer I wrestled with the fact that it was only 7:30 in the morning and he might not want me waking him up that early. Also that he might be ashamed of me offering to help. And, who am I to get involved with a complete stranger anyway? Excuses. I was making excuses. I continued to drive to the shopping center.

When I rounded the final corner to the rear of the building, with my heart racing, I looked – and saw – and sighed. I physically and audibly sighed with relief. The van was gone. Immediately I felt the internal struggle of wanting to be obedient to what I felt I was supposed to do versus what I have always done; what was comfortable; what was easy. I was ashamed of my sigh of relief…my internal, carnal desire to not help anyone, ever. I was embarrassed that I pretend to be a warrior – but only up on my level where it is safe and where I’m in control; never in the valley where shadows and darkness live.

I made the intentional determination to drive methodically through every parking lot and shopping center in the area. I had to override my habitual behavior and force myself to move toward being like Christ. If it was God’s will for me to help this man, then I would find him and help him. I did not find him, and I’m sad because of it. Yet, I have learned more about my need to know Christ intimately so that I can behave like him naturally; to know his Word specifically so that I can respond quickly; to love His people – all people – with compassion.

Eric is married to Carrie and has three boys and Molly the dog. He is a public safety professional and loves Jesus above all.

Struggling with Compassion

A few years ago I found myself in a place I thought I’d never be. My family member had been admitted to a place they take people from broken homes, off the streets, abused people, addicted people, people that deserved to be in a place like this for one reason or another. I was devastated; crushed; confused. How was this possible? We weren’t any of those things…just the opposite. Loving family – check. Good jobs, good church, good school, good friends…check, check, check, check. As I walked down the corridor for the 1-hour communal visit for the first time I was crying my eyes out for my family and the one I loved who didn’t belong in this place.

We had to wait awhile for our visit and as I sat in the room, deep in my own pain and thoughts, I was suddenly made keenly aware of what was happening around me. One girl was crying because not only would her mother not be visiting that day, she wouldn’t even take her call during the one hour allowed for calls. There were other similar situations happening all around me. In that moment I had a flashback to when I was a college student. I was a sociology major at a Christian college and had been assigned to visit a girl in the hospital. I hadn’t recalled this incident in years but my memory was vivid. As I visited her and she told me she had tried to kill herself I was externally kind but what was going on in my heart and mind was not kind at all. My thoughts were along the lines of, “How selfish of you!”; “What could possibly be so bad, so hopeless?”

And then it happened…I felt it happen. My heart broke and it grew. I was heartbroken for all of those people sitting in that room who didn’t have hope. God let me know that He loved me so much that He wasn’t going to let me go my whole life without understanding compassion. 30 years was long enough!

I know now that I believed a lie that I wasn’t gifted in the area of compassion. I’ve met others that believe similar lies. Lies that say they can’t have compassion on certain people because they’ve been hurt by people like that. Lies that say they aren’t good enough to have compassion on others because of their own issues. I’m convinced that those lies are straight from the enemy and are intended to keep us from being like Jesus.

Jesus is compassion…compassion that feels the pain and brokenness without judgment. I want to follow His lead. See with His eyes and love like He loves.

kimd-500x500Kim is wife and mom to adult kids, Kristyn and Kayla. She’s a local real estate agent and on leaders the Hello Team (and more!) at Grace.