the wrap-up

We’re thrilled.  No, seriously.

We still get questions and comments from people who feel bad for us.  I get where they’re coming from and appreciate the attempt at empathy; but they’ve misread the event; they didn’t understand the good news of what’s happening.

The past few blog posts have given a good idea of the transition we’ve been going through and what that’s meant for Soma.  It would be easy as an observer to see these things as sad endings.  In fact, we’ve been around other similar events for people and churches and they ARE sad events; some of them tragic even.  This one isn’t.

God is so good, so generous, so gracious, and wow does he ever seem to have a big picture in mind!

Soma is officially being dissolved/closed (effective Dec 31st, for you detail types).  Months ago we heard our leg of the mission was complete, and we began praying to find out what the next leg was going to be.  We now have an answer.  God has sent replacements!  It’s another church, and this Summer three families moved into the same area we left at the beginning of the Summer!  It’s been just exciting and wonderful to hear how God is truly targeting our old neighborhood.  This new crew, though we’ve never met them, are doing missional communities, going door to door with cookies and offering prayer, and are already seeing people healed and lives changed.

How great is our God?  That He would have the next leg in the journey already lined up.  That He would give us a chance to hear the story of how He is moving there.  That He would reassure us that the well-being of where we were once doing mission is NOT actually ours, but His; and He will look out for it even after we’re gone.

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So, yes, Soma is closing.  Yes, it’s good news.  Yes, we are excited about what this means for the neighborhood we’ve left.  Yes, we’re excited about where we’re going.

This blog site will cease updates effective immediately, but will remain live indefinitely so that people can always have access to read the story of God’s faithfulness, generosity, and movement through Southern Orchards and Wilson Avenue in Columbus, OH.

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gifted and chapter completion

There seemed to be only one fittng way to wrap up this season of Soma:  CELEBRATION.  In the past 4 years, a diverse group of people came together, locked shields and embraced a vision for discipleship and mission.

We’ve been changed, transformed, for the better.  We have grown in love, the mark of Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). We have been family; sacrificing and supporting one another in practical ways; learning to accept the gifts, time, and resources of others in mutual love and navigating challenge and conflict.  We have grown in rhythms. We must rest to work and can find rest in various forms. We have grown in faith. We have witnessed food multiplied, spontaneous baptisms, help in trials, and the constant voice of God. We have grown in accountability. We operate more consistently in the mindset of “What is God saying and what am I going to do about it?”  We look more like Christ, and we continue to journey with fellow Christians. God is good and He is generous.

In His generosity we have received many gifts and we have tried to show generosity to those around us. There is more ahead in this adventure and we trust that we have each been built up and readied to go into new spheres and help people find and follow Jesus. We have loved sharing the journey with each and every one of you!

The next step on the journey for Soma is transitioning to rest / hibernation.  As we look out over our purpose for discipleship and mission, we see nothing but His work and presence.  It’s been refreshing and exciting to complete and close chapter 1 for Soma and prepare for the ‘page intentionally left blank’ before the start of chapter 2.  Chapter 2 hasn’t yet been titled, but one of the things we’ve certainly learned is if rest comes before work on an individual level, then it should also at the community level.

The intent is for Soma (and all of us!) to rest for a time (oh, say a year or so) and during that time we will be praying and abiding in His presence as he prepares us for the next season for Soma; at which point we will gear up and launch again, rested and ready for His work for us.  We will be looking to build relationships for support, partnership, leadership, followership, and recreation.  We are already excited and thankful for those He will put us in family and community with to start the next thing, even as we prepare to rest first.

For the past few weeks and for the next week or so, our team motto has been, “finish strong; don’t puke.” 🙂

As you may have noticed, updates have been less frequent lately as we’ve been busy working on finishing strong this leg of the race.  While resting, updates will be infrequent (we hope not non-existent, but who knows…).  I’d recommend checking back every so often.

Contact information will remain the same, so if you have an email address or phone number for us or Soma, keep it; we will still be reachable there.

the more He stays the same, the more things change

In the books of Malachi, Hebrews, James, and Revelation (and more!) in the Bible we are told in various ways that God doesn’t change; that He is, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  This is a comforting thing.  It means as we learn more and more about our perfect Dad of Dad and what he and his Son are up to, we can count on the promises He’s made and trust His character and will.

So, for a God who doesn’t change, why can He seem so hard to follow at times? 

He moves.  He is forever in motion and his direction is constant, always at his work of restoring what is broken to righteousness in his Kingdom.  This movement is why there is mystery to the Spirit and why sometimes it seems like He changes and why it can be hard to follow him.  And it’s also why from time to time, as we seek his Kingdom, we are the ones who have to be transformed, we are the ones who have to pick up and move to his grace.

This is not an announcement.  Yet…
This is a heads up and a request to pray with us and help us consider and watch for his grace and movement.

So, here’s where we’re at:

Soma ‘launched’ in Jan 2012.  From then until now, we celebrate:
– stretching the definition of ‘church planting’ and realizing we’re more like domestic missionaries
– being given LOTS of amazing resources to steward, most of which have been people
– people committing to intentional discipleship
– being witnesses to 35 decisions to follow Christ and being part of as many baptisms
– seeing marriages and relationships restored
– being there when hearts no longer seek violence
– people being delivered from ‘less than pious jobs and cultures’
– many around us having learned their heart follows their treasure
– learning (and are still learning) how to hear His voice and obey
– countless mouths literally being fed
– … and more!  (We hope this blog has been a decent place to follow stories of His movement here in Southern Orchards, Columbus.)

By the end of 2014 we were perceiving things slowing down, orbits expanding, and missional partners moving on.  There are pieces of this that can be painful and difficult to understand.  So we prayed.  And we were reminded that any kind of pruning can be just that:  painful and difficult to understand.  But almost all of this pruning was indeed out of our control.  Throughout this time, our Father has been gracious, encouraging, generous, and even gentle.  He is good.  Let me repeat that:  He is good.

So, here we are just into 2015 and we’re asking Him if His grace for our part here has moved on (either in mission, mission context, or location), or if we are being tasked with persevering where we are and doing what we do.  This is our request to you, that you will pray alongside us in this ask.  Perhaps it’s the missionary hearts within us, but we are completely open to whatever His answer is; though we are not emotionless in the potential changes.

Pray hard and stay tuned.  🙂

– Nate

21 day challenge

Lots of our blog posts over the past few years have been all about Kingdom-what we’re doing as a family.  This one will focus on the other side of the continuum–Covenant and being a family.

At the end of August, we sat around as a huddle, talking about what God has been saying to each of us.  Some of us were unsettled, restless.  Others hearing the words “find contentment in the being.”  Over the last few months, we have had a new start as a family of missionaries.  We have all committed to living in one neighborhood with the focus of shining Christ’s light and bringing His Kingdom to where we are as a family.  It had been a challenge to just wait on the Lord and be patient in hearing what He wants us to do and be faithful in looking for people of peace.  As we discussed and questioned the kairos we had been given as a community, we threw around some crazy plans trying to find what obedience looked like.

Finally, we settled on this:  be together for 21 days straight.  21 days.  Not all day, every day; but together at least once every day.  That’s how many days it’s supposed to take to solidify a new habit.  21 days.  It was almost like a fast – giving up our individualism, our free time, and our schedules-a group of introverts.  Now this is sounding a bit “suffocating” as one of us put it.  We were united in our decision-we were determined to create a tight family, one we know will stand firm, one we can invite others into, one that has been tested.

21 days is up.  Everyone sacrificed something.  There were days we had to get up early to have breakfast together because work schedules went beyond our little ones’ bedtimes.  There was a day we had to meet at Kroger and grocery shop together even though some of us despise shopping.  There were even meals some of us didn’t prefer to eat.  Most of the days just looked like eating dinner or playing a couple video games or watching a movie together.  It ended up being much simpler and more natural than I had expected.  Isn’t that what a covenant family should be?  Simple and natural.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there were days when not everyone was happy.  There were days when not everyone was healthy.  And there were days when it would have just been easier to skip (like the day after the toddler fell and got nine stitches).  But mostly, there were days of joy, conversation, laughter, and family.  My prayer is two-fold: that we will look back on these 21 days as some of the best days as we drew closer, refined vision, and restarted on this mission our Father has set us on; and that we will be able to carry on with this new sense of family that we pressed into.

So, there’s your glimpse into what we’ve been doing-which has looked a whole lot like just being a family.

so much good

photoI read a blog recently that posed the question, “if there is no God, why is there so much good in the world?”  There are days when there’s so much bad, it’s hard to see the goodness.  But, there was a day this week that there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that there is goodness and that God was and is responsible for it.

It started off like any other Wednesday night…threatening skies and a few old faithfuls helping get food ready.  This same ole Wednesday transformed before our eyes…new faces showing up, all ages participating in prayer stations, and enough food to go around.  There were new relationships forming and conversations happening all over our front yard and porch.  Delightful squeals could be heard from the kiddie pool in the backyard.  I figured I needed to go make sure no one was getting stuck in the mud or being dunked too forcefully in the pool.  As I got to the back, one of the girls hopped out, skipped up to me, and asked if she could get baptized.  It caught me completely off guard, but the story of the Eunuch being baptized in a nearby ditch popped into my head (Acts 8).  So, I said yes!  After we talked about the meaning of baptism and gathered up the rest of the family, we baptized not just her, but seven others.

Each person proclaimed truth and talked about who Jesus was to them…”my hero,” “my King,” “forgiver of my sins.”  There was cheering and rejoicing as so many chose to be obedient and go public with their faith.  The night ended with almost all the kids in the pool and almost all the adults standing in awe of the goodness of our God.

-Natalie

let the little children come to me

CA183E34-030B-4C20-B604-DD14DAED0063Do you ever feel like the disciples did? Bothered by the children?  It’s easy to get caught up in their mess, their chaos, and their noise.  But it’s also easy to see why Jesus scolded the disciples and told us all to be a bit more like the little ones (Matt 19).  Just a few Jesus-qualities shown by the youngest of our family at Open Door MC last week:

selfless service:  offering to serve food to others and choosing to eat last

evangelism:  requesting paper and crayons to make signs to invite others to the cookout

love & kindness:  the older ones toting around the younger ones, taking them underwing

compassion:  asking for prayer for their loved ones

generosity:  running home for five packets of kool-aid to make and share with the family

I’m so thankful God has entrusted us to begin discipling these young believers.  As we focus on sowing seed generously across our neighborhood, I’m reminded that these are the  first sprouts of the seeds we planted when we began this journey as a family a few years ago.

-Natalie

 

 

sprouts of family

open doorIt is lovely, sitting on a front porch, the wind slightly blowing.  Another neighbor mother is holding my daughter as she tells her daughter how to give berries to mine.  I pick more mulberries from the side tree.  I watch.

Beautiful blue faces.  Makes my heart smile.  We are eating together.  Talking together.  Being together.  The evening sky is cooling down.  I can see God’s picture of family moving in our midst.

These prayers of seeding.  Sprouts, they have begun.

Thank you, God, that we can see them.  I am so happy I can be here.  That you have helped me to this place.  That my fears are less and that I have trusted, and can always trust, in who You are.   Help me to see You more.  Help me to slow down and catch glimpses.  Refresh me in Your ways.

-Danielle