A Weekend in Normal, IL

June 8, 2016

This past weekend we made a trip to Illinois. When we told people in New York we were heading to Illinois, most assumed we were heading to Chicago. But no… we were headed to central Illinois, two hours south of Chicago to a town called, get this — Normal.

Normal! The town is called Normal, IL, my friends. I loved this.

And with its open roads, sprawling corn fields, and plethora of minivans, Normal, IL is far from our norm in NYC. But a change of pace and time with kind, generous people made for a trip we all needed. 

We went to Normal to visit one of the churches that helps support our church financially. They support ministries around the world, in India, Morocco, Kenya, and Haiti, and they’re also committed to helping start new churches in New York City over the next few years. Jordan and I got a chance to speak to the congregation during each of their four services and share our story and the cool things happening in our faith community, in part, thanks to their support.

It’s a pretty humbling thing to meet people who care deeply about the work we do, even though they are far removed from our neighborhood and the people we try to serve. People who pray for our well-being and our marriage and our son and the people who make up Renaissance Church. People who’ve chosen to act out their faith by giving their resources to people in other parts of the world, though they’re faceless and nameless.

It was also beautiful to be in Normal and see several families with adopted children. One of those families — Tyler and Jessica Hari and their four children — spent an extended amount of time with us while we were there, and I’ll treasure the time with them for years to come. Jameson is still on a high from hanging out with them too. If he could talk, I’m pretty sure he’d be asking me why our apartment doesn’t have a playroom like the Haris’ house.

StoriedStyledNormal-11Not only was there a playroom with toys for days, there was also a trampoline in the backyard. And since Jameson has no chance of having access to a trampoline in our apartment anytime soon, I decided we needed to take full advantage of it.StoriedStyledNormal-5StoriedStyledNormal-3StoriedStyledNormal-9And he loved it.StoriedStyledNormal-8StoriedStyledNormal-12
He giggled and cackled as I held his hands and bounced us up and down.StoriedStyledNormal-2He laughed some more as one of the Hari boys, Tyson, jumped up and down on the trampoline.StoriedStyledNormal-4StoriedStyledNormal-6
And I died with laughter each time he did.StoriedStyledNormal
While the kids played, us grown-ups got to talk about life and ministry and adoption — a topic I consider to be really amazing. The idea of two people, with no relation and possibly a thousand differences, being united and made family is pretty incredible.

And then I thought about me and the other Jessica…StoriedStyledNormal-10Both in our mid-thirties. Both married to pastors. One raised in a central Illinois farm town. The other outside of Philadelphia. One has four children (pause for major props). The other has one. One juggles home school and sports games. The other navigates busy sidewalks and pre-school waiting lists. One drives a minivan. The other rides the A train. And with a slew of other differences, both follow Jesus.

This last detail makes us adopted. Family. Sisters.

Somewhat hard to imagine, especially given the state of our country, but still true. Adoption transcends logic and natural order. And this is one reason why the concept of God’s adoption of us seen throughout scripture is so powerful.

I came back from Normal feeling anything but. I’m grateful to have been inspired and reminded of how much we’re loved.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! – 1 John 3:1

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  • Reply
    Nicki Green
    June 8, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    We loved having your precious family visit us at Eastview in Normal!! I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in NYC! Time with the Hari family is always full of fun and laughter! – Nicki Green

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      June 12, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks so much, Nicki! It was a blessing to visit Eastview. We’re looking forward to your visit to NYC too. :-)

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