Every corner is a new adventure. It seems that the last few weeks we have definitely turned our share of corners on this amazing journey.
The first and most significant was last week when Bailey turned 6 years old! I know it’s cliche, but I really can’t believe she’s already 6! It’s so awesome to see her personality develop and watch her grow physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually every day! Bailey is very creative and LOVES anything craft related – painting, coloring, making things, you name it. Not only that, she is getting really good at it! She had her birthday party at a pottery painting gallery with most of the girls from her class at school. Dawn made her an awesome giant cupcake birthday cake and took cupcakes to school for her class on her birthday. Bailey has become especially good friends with 2 girls in her class, one of which lives really close to us. She and Bailey have had a couple play dates (one of which allowed Dawn and I to have a nice date night) and we recently had her family over for dinner.
As expected, she is knocking Kindergarten out of the park – especially with her reading! Dawn had conference with Bailey’s teacher last week and commented that she is one of the brightest students in her class. She had her second class presentation last week on her favorite book – “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut” by Dr. Seuss. She volunteered to go first and of course nailed it! In case you were wondering, I’m not even the least bit biased. 😉
Dawn is starting to get into the groove of being a Nanny which is quite different from the kind of work she was doing back in NC. It has been a nice break for her though – especially from a stress standpoint. Dawn commented that she is really enjoying the much lower stress level of her job and the residency so far. She is beginning to get a feel for the baby’s rhythms and how to give her what she needs at the right time. The baby is now getting to the point where she recognizes Dawn and even smiles and reaches for her when she gets there in the morning.
Last week the “new” TRAINiacs (Brian, Steve, and myself) went to Kansas City for a conference called SENTralized where we met up with the 3 previous residents. It was a really great week for us to bond, hang out together, eat TONS of amazing BBQ, and see what God is already doing through those guys after only a couple of months on the ground. One of the guys, Blake, lives there in Kansas City and is planting a church there. One evening we went over to his place and just listened to their stories of what God did in them through the residency and what He is doing through them now and it was a really powerful and encouraging time. We took advantage of the opportunity to sit in on one of Blake’s Launch Team training meetings and also got to see the community center where the church will likely have their Sunday worship gatherings.
Of course we also went to the conference which had a much different culture than I’m used to and expected. The focus was all about BEING the Church and living missionally in the places we live, work, and play. At times, the tone became very anti-traditional church especially the more “attractional” church models that make worship services and programs the focus. The “missional” model focuses more on the need for Christians to be salt and light in relationship with non-believers.
One of my favorite quotes from the conference was, “There are lost people all around us. Stop inviting them to church and just be friends with them.” The point is that we are called to love people and help them see and feel God’s love for them through us. That happens best in the context of relationships. As Christians, we have a tendency to create weirdness by awkwardly inviting our neighbors and coworkers to church rather than take time to get to know them on a personal level and allow them to get to know us. Once they know us and know we are relatively normal human beings, we will have unforced and natural opportunities to engage them on a spiritual level. One speaker said that once she started getting to know her neighbors, they went from being her projects to becoming her friends.
I know that my church background is almost completely attractional. I’ve even helped build attractional ministries. I’m beginning to really understand that the church should be BOTH attractional (gathered) AND missional (scattered) rather than one or the other. We must do both or we risk missing a critical part of what Jesus wants His church to be. There’s much more that I could share, but that was one of my big takeaways from the conference.
Every other Monday we meet for LAUNCH training and the last couple of sessions have prompted us to develop faith goals (leading from a bold vision that takes prayerful risks), our values (identifying our distinctives and non-negotiables), and yesterday was all about funding and fundraising (finding and gathering the resources needed to accomplish God’s vision). The reading, discussion, and training on fundraising was challenging and eye-opening for me to see it from a very different perspective. Until now, my mentality has been that fundraising is a necessary evil and not something I like or look forward to but rather avoid. After our reading Henry Nouwen’s “Spirituality of Fundraising” and our discussion, I now see that it really does have a spiritual component – and it’s not demonic! What I now realize is that if God has given me a vision for what He has called me to do, I have a responsibility to seek out those He has called to partner with that vision. If I don’t, I am not only being disobedient, but also causing others to be disobedient by not allowing them the opportunity to leverage the gifts they have been given to help accomplish God’s vision. Maybe that’s a no-brainer but it was a pretty big shift for me. (Check out 1 Chronicles 29:1-13)
THANK YOU for keeping us in your prayers! Here are some things we’re praising God for: Bailey – awesome 6th birthday, doing great in school, making several friends; Dawn – job going really well, reduced stress, becoming friends with the mom of one of Bailey’s close friends; Todd – great trip to KC, learning a lot and gaining great insight and perspective; we have health insurance!; God has provided financially for new tires and a new radiator & radiator fan for Todd’s car (about $2000 total)
Please pray that we will continue to develop relationships with our neighbors and the parents of Bailey’s classmates, for Bailey to continue to do well in school, for Dawn’s job to go well and that she will be a great witness to this couple she works for, for Holly Springs and the church God is leading us to plant there, For Todd’s sister who recently had back surgery) for continued health, for no more large unexpected expenses, and for making time for our family nights, date nights, exercise, training, reading, and interviews with church planters and staff.
We love and appreciate you more than you could know! Shoot us a text, facebook message, tweet, or give us a call if you have a minute! We would LOVE to hear from you!
Bailey, Dawn, & Todd