If you have ever been the blessed attendee of one of our Remnant FELLOWSHIP GATHERINGS – including Wedding Receptions, Concert Receptions, Viewsical Events, Fellowship Evenings, and much more – you’ve gotten a “taste” of the incredible food selections prepared by our hard-working and selfless FOOD COMMITTEE. This Team of Saints gathers with Gwen and the rest of our Event Planning Team before every big Event at the Church Building…and they meticulously plan out the menu for those Events. And the RESULTS of those Spirit-led meetings are absolutely DELICIOUS! This Team plans and shops for these special gatherings. They arrive early and they stay late. They are gifted, joyful, and are a delight to interact with as well…as they ALL speak of how blessed THEY feel to get to serve the Church in this way! That is a wonderful testimony in and of itself. They don’t see their efforts as “work.” They see them as getting to share in the joy of the Saints…even though they don’t always have as much time for the “Fellowship” part of these Events. What a blessing it is to be able to count on such an awesome and loving group! The go-to person for this committee is ASHLEY HAMILTON. She and her family have been a part of this Remnant Church for many years now, and we had a chance to catch up with her and gather her thoughts about what it is like to be a part of this Church AND to serve on the Food Committee. As you will see below, her attitude and cheerful heart are on display as she shares a little bit about her life, her family, and this act of service. Keep reading!
RN = Remnant Fellowship News | AH = Ashley Hamilton
AH – As a child, and even into my early adulthood, I never really struggled with weight. I was a thin eater, for the most part, and very active. The greed for food that was deep in my heart eventually surfaced after the birth of my 3rd child in 1997. I was 25 pounds heavier than I was used to and couldn’t lose the weight. I read the Weigh Down book in August of that year and lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks, but I knew there was so much more to it than just food – this obedience started stretching into every area of my life. In November 2001, I attended the Rebuilding the Wall Event in South Bend, and my life was forever changed – my eyes were opened to the TRUE message of obedience. I coordinated a Weigh Down class in January of 2002, and my husband Jason, having watched my life change so drastically, agreed to watch the videos. He watched the first 2 weeks’ lessons in 2 days…and lost 25 pounds over the next four weeks. We are so grateful to God and to Gwen for so faithfully communicating what God has revealed to her. The joy and peace and freedom and LOVE that comes from obedience cannot be described – we wouldn’t trade it for anything!
In 2005, we sold nearly everything we had, picked up our 3 young children and moved to Brentwood, TN. Fast forward to today, our children are grown and have learned that there is nothing more important than loving God with your WHOLE HEART! Ellie is 22 and was married last year to Dylan Gormsen, a young man of undeniable purity and humility. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a son! Gabe is 21 and Luke is 19. Both of our boys live at home and are a true joy to parent!
Jason has been blessed to have the opportunity to work for Exodus Industries (a construction company owned and operated by Gwen Shamblin) for 10 years as a Project Manager. I was a stay-at-home mom prior to our move to Brentwood, but soon after our move, I found an entry level position as a receptionist. Because of what I learned here about authority, God not only protected my job through two acquisitions, but has blessed me with several promotions and raises over the course of the last 10 years. I work for Nuance Communications and am currently transitioning out of my role as a Senior Operations Manager into a new position as a Senior Business Analyst.
RN – Share about your experience with food, planning, events, etc. Have you done a lot of this in the past or did you learn “on the fly” as you agreed to head up the Food Committee here at the Church?
AH – Since moving to Brentwood, I’ve had the honor of volunteering on the Food Committee in a variety of capacities to prepare amazing feasts for various events – from God’s Festivals to Covenant Weddings and everything in between. I learned to bake as a child (unfortunately, I didn’t do a lot of cooking), but coming from a family of 6 children, meal time required somewhat of a “food committee” in and of itself! I didn’t have any other applicable experience in event planning or catering prior to taking this on, so I was definitely learning as I went! There were, however, several EXTREMELY gifted Saints who have gone before me in this role, and when I stepped into it, I felt like I was stepping into a “well-oiled machine.” I had watched carefully what they did and how they managed their team and the tasks at hand – always through MUCH PRAYER – and have learned first-hand what Gwen has taught for years – that God is the best caterer, best cook, best organizer, best everything!
RN – What is the “planning process” like when preparing for a big Remnant Event…like a Wedding or Festival? Who do you meet with? What goes into deciding what the Menu will be? How do you plan for the AMOUNT of food that you need to purchase?
AH – The Remnant Festivals and many of the weddings can be very large…and sometimes multi-day events. There is a lot of time and effort that is devoted to these events by many, many people, and it is beautiful how God spreads the work around, and no one feels overburdened. For Festival planning, Amy Stites (who works directly under Gwen’s leading) is our key resource and always helps guide us on the direction of the menu. With the information she provides, we will typically review menus from past events to create a complete menu, before providing it back to Gwen, Amy, and the team for review and any further direction. Because we have saved the menus from previous Festivals and weddings for several years, complete with shopping lists and quantities, we can relatively quickly determine what quantities will be needed based on the expected attendance. There are, however, many different variables that can impact the amounts of food needed for particular events, from the time of day the event will take place to the weather we expect (people tend to eat less when it’s hot!), and so we are very prayerful about quantities, as well. A very similar process is used for weddings, with one variation. With weddings, I have the honor of meeting with the bride and groom and their families, to get their thoughts and ideas, and together we come up with a plan for their reception. The conversations with the families are a true joy! There is such humility and gratitude from each family member, only wanting what God wants. I have been so honored over the course of the last several years to get to work with so many different families and see the same peaceful, joyful spirit in all of them – that ONLY comes from God!
RN – Talk about working with your parents (Larry and Karen Sims) on this Committee and how rewarding that has been.
AH – One of those “extremely gifted Saints” who was already on the Food Committee was my mother, Karen, who passed this role on to me. She had been the head of the food committee for a couple of years, and it was truly an honor and a joy to work under her at that time. I watched her prayers get answered time after time, event after event. And as everyone on the food committee will testify even today, the time we spent working and preparing food and menus was a time of fellowship and fun, and gave us an “excuse” to be together. As she began to transition some of the responsibility to me a few years ago, it was so fun to learn from her and have her as a constant resource for questions! If she didn’t know the answer, she could point me to a Saint who did know! As with all authority, I consistently found that when I acted on the direction she gave, whether it be menus or quantities or anything, the outcome was always perfect!
RN – Share a little bit about your key “Food Committee Team members.” Who are the Saints who work with you most often on the Committee?
AH – I am constantly telling this team that we have “the BEST committee,” and we do! There are so many people who will drop everything to help. And while we try to call it “volunteering” and “serving”, we all know we are having way to much fun together to call it “work!” My mom (Karen Sims) and Sue Ruth are the faithful shoppers, who spend days collecting the ingredients from the lists I send them, and have it all so beautifully organized at the church when we arrive to begin preparations. Bruce and Renee Holmes are my “right hands” on food preparation day – Bruce has a true gift with organization and timing the preparation perfectly to make sure the food is hot…and not dried out! (And we have even gotten the help of their two children whenever they are available!) Jenni Mendl is the first volunteer in and the last volunteer out and can handle any task with ease, not to mention the SWEETEST heart! Whitney Sabo, my sister, is an amazing cook, and will often head up special projects with special recipes when I need someone who has a special knack for good cooking. (Many of our most requested recipes came from her kitchen!) She also brings her four young daughters to help serve on food preparation day, and they LOVE to work and learn! Elaine Oehlerking has been a dedicated volunteer for years and years and years, and she always serves with such a joyful spirit and a humble heart! Judy and Kim Buchi faithfully volunteer to cut vegetables at home prior to every event, and Judy is constantly volunteering in the kitchen.Joe Walston is the “master of the meat!” He will gladly prepare more than 100 pounds of meat, from beef tenderloin to turkeys to pork, and he and his team are always willing to try something new. Debbie Blair is wonderfully gifted when it comes to food presentation, and she can make the most unbelievably beautiful fruit and vegetable trays. Jodi Spoon is a newer member of the committee, but such a valued team member, who will jump at every opportunity! And last, but most definitely not least, is Nathan Powers. Nathan has been the pillar of the food committee for more years than I have been in Brentwood. He has it all! He’s an amazing cook, has fantastic organization skills, but above all, he is incredibly talented with food presentation, and his sense of humor is unmatched! The displays he can make with food are out of this world. And I know that he always is quick to give credit to God and to Gwen for what he has learned with those skills. He has emulated her creative and Spirit-led ideas every step of the way, and he is a true gift to this church! And there are so many more – I’m sure I’m leaving people out. God has provided the greatest group and always brings the right people for every task!
RN – Since very few members (outside of your family and maybe the Marion, Ohio Saints) would have known you PRIOR to this Message, do a little “compare and contrast” what the “old Ashley” would have been like on a Food Committee for Events like what we have here…versus how GOD has refined you and how the “new Ashley” works…which is very joyful and calm, ready to go with the Spirit’s leading and any changes in a moment’s notice, genuinely happy to serve the Church in this way. How do you handle things DIFFERENTLY now…versus years ago?
AH – There have been so many changes in my life over the last 18 years, they are too numerous to count! I will first say, and I know I speak for the team, that prior to learning what Gwen has taught us about finding the will of God in EVERYTHING and following the leading of the Spirit as God changes direction, this food committee would not exist as it does today. The love and joy and peace in that kitchen comes only from the heavens through Saints who are completely in love with God and want only what He wants! We have such a genuine trust in God’s lead that it is difficult to put into words. The old Ashley would never have survived – I was very often too stubborn to take others advice, and thought I had the better idea. I most certainly would have panicked if things weren’t going as I had planned. I would have been more worried about what people thought of me than what God thought, and would have effectively blocked God’s Spirit! As we all know, Gwen and our leadership is so incredibly sensitive to God’s leading…and that plans change often as that lead changes, many times at the last minute, and it will seem like an impossible task to accomplish. In my past, I would have said “no way – it can’t be done,” and that would have been the end of it. But now, I see these changes as just another opportunity for God to show us how perfect He is! EVERY TIME, without fail, God provides the way and the means to accomplish those “impossible tasks,” and I am more in love with God at the end than I was at the beginning. I have learned to love that leading and there is such PEACE, not panic, as the direction changes. While we do our very best to plan and prepare, I know that God is the head of the food committee, and know that it is really HIM who is taking care of everything. With any events of these sizes, there are a lot of moving parts, and numerous times at every event, He brings reminders of things that need to be done, from the most unlikely places, and I love it! I am never worried that we’re going to forget something, the opposite of the old me!
RN – Share any “behind-the-scenes” fun facts that you think would be fun and interesting for people to know about the Food Committee and/or our Events in general. Talk about the TEAMWORK and SELFLESSNESS of the Saints that you work with.
AH – Fun fact: We are constantly praying that we don’t set off the fire alarm in the middle of the service! And to date, God has answered that prayer!
Gwen has always taught us the importance of passing down our love for God to the next generation and we are working to put that same principle into practice on the food committee. We have so many youth, from 5 to 20 year olds, who are working with us consistently and are learning what a joy it is! It is fun to see God’s gifts come out in each of them, from the older boys who serve with their strength by cutting our meats and carrying our heavy trays for us to the young girls who are watching the adults and learning to cook and clean and arrange beautiful trays.
RN – Feel free to share anything else on your heart about your life, how grateful you are, and anything that would ENCOURAGE all of our volunteers out there!
AH – I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed my family has been BECAUSE of the time we have spent volunteering and serving. Gwen has taught us, and I can wholeheartedly testify, God ALWAYS gives back! My entire family (husband and 3 children) help with the food committee as often as God allows, and they love it! Not only is God providing that time to fellowship with other Saints, which is a joy in and of itself, but God will use the things I learn while serving in other areas of my life. Some of the organizational skills have crossed over into the skills I need for my job…and vice-versa. And while we do give a lot of time in preparation for these events, God has always protected me from feeling overwhelmed, and He always takes care of any other need that may crop up – ALWAYS! The amount of energy He gives is indescribable – and I know I speak for the entire committee! As with all things, the blessings for obedience are more than we can even begin to list – from blessings at my (and Jason’s) jobs, to joy and purity in our family, to obedient children who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and work, to financial blessings, to a house of LOVE! I know God gives all those things back when we are willing to put HIM and HIS HOUSE first! He takes care of mine. And I can’t say it too many times – the credit for that goes to Gwen! She taught us that God CAN do better than Rocky Road ice cream. When we give up our time (and it’s not ours to start with!), God gives back so much more! More than we could ever want or need!!!