from rest to work

imagejpeg_0Several months back, we entered a season of rest and pruning as a Missional Community.  It meant a whole lot of abiding, personally and as a family.  We all began reading the Moravian Texts together, found ways to connect with the Father on deeper levels individually, and spent lots of time just being together.  At our retreat at the end of January, we were all sensing the Holy Spirit preparing us to swing back to the other side of the pendulum, to work.  We weren’t sure when and what it would look like, but we were rested and ready.

The second Sunday of each  month, we gather for Family Worship.  As we sat down to begin, we were prompted to change our plans.  It was almost like a direct challenge, “you said you’re ready to work, so let’s get to it!”  Instead of carrying on with our order of worship, we decided to head to the local park to see what the Lord had in mind.  As we walked, we began attracting kids, kids, and more kids.  Some were kids we’ve been in relationship with, but most were brand new.  We ended up starting a pick-up game of touch or tackle (depending on who you were) football with the older boys once we got to the park.  The younger kids got pushed on swings, played chase, and started their own tiny version of football.  One little one asked, “are you family?”  Yes, yes we are.  We’re a family on mission to bring the Kingdom to this neighborhood.

So often, we have to be willing to throw our plans out the window in order to follow God’s plans.  And many times, we have to be willing to begin working in order to see what the work is.

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Worship His Majesty

This is just a glimpse into one of our Family Worship MC’s.  Most weeks, we begin by sharing what we have seen God doing lately and respond with a simple phrase.  It turns out to be a neat poem/Psalm to give God thanksgiving and praise.

He’s changing peoples’ lives; His majestic name fills the earth!

He helps me never give up on things; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave mommy and daddy a new clock and they gave it to me; His majestic name fills the earth!

God is helping some of our friends find a house to purchase; His majestic name fills the earth!

God helped me get a new toy car when I gave all my money away; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave us a warmer weekend so we could enjoy the outdoors; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gives us friends; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave me and my family a peaceful and united day yesterday; His majestic name fills the earth!

He took away my bad dream so I could go back to sleep; His majestic name fills the earth!

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Best Christmas Ever

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December is one of the busiest months of the year.  Everyone is running about, getting ready with decorating their homes, baking cookies, shopping, and spending time with loved ones.  And Soma is no different.  So let’s go through a recap of what is known as the most wonderful time of the year!

During our Family Worship, we had the Yates’ parents visit and we sang Christmas Carols; of course everyone was excited to sing!  With a guitar playing from one of our special guests, we sang some of our favorite Christmas songs.  We ended with a ‘play’ (readers theater) of sorts about the birth of Christ, only with some great humor, but the best part was one of the younger kids from the neighborhood wanted to be the narrator.  He struggled, but with a little help, he did most of the narration  and was determined to be a part of this fun activity.

And much like last year, we went out and passed out Christmas Cookies to the neighborhood (more traditions)!  Each family baked a few dozen, and right before we went out, we gathered around the table to stuff the bags.  We had our own kids and kids from the neighborhood help stuff these bags and we were off, splitting into two groups.

One of the best feelings was seeing a group of people I have seen and had a few conversations with, they always know us when they see us doing something good.  They assumed we were caroling, which gave most of us a good laugh, but one kid was all but ready to sing, attempting to prepare everyone to sing (although when he signaled people to start, he never mentioned a song for us).  He might have given us an idea for future years.

On our way back, as we passed the same group as before, one lady hurried to her home and turned on her Christmas decorations, which included at least half a dozen Christmas inflatables.  Half the group hung out there and watched them all come alive and watched the woman, excited to have people admire her decorations.

‘Twas the Night before the night before Christmas and we got together for dinner, a White Elephant Christmas Exchange, and Christmas Eve Eve Service with Cross City.  The dinner, as always, was so delicious (we do love our food), and the White Elephant was as fun as last year (you know, tradition).  It started off slow, very few steals, but as the last few presents were sitting there, we all went crazy.  Board Games passed around like crazy, digital clocks every which way, and a Mason Jar with a fake butter fly that flutters around when you tap it was in many different hands.  In the end, we all were laughing, got a new item to play with, and we were off to our cars.

At the Christmas Eve Eve service, you could tell everyone was excited, candles everywhere (which attracts small kids quite nicely, I might add) and a makeshift living room for story time with the kids during the service.  With good scripture and great songs, we ended our night, hugging and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Oh, but we’re Soma, and the year’s not over yet!  In our last 2012 hurrah, we went to the ultimate family restaurant, Buca di Beppo!  We all ate far too much, but who cares.  We all were able to come together, rest, and enjoy amazing food.  The kids acted great, and one, to his parents’ pleasant surprise, inhaled calamari and muscles.  Everyone was able order something and share, a real family feel, and we also discussed our next family get together.

December is a busy month; so often we forget the true meaning of the holiday and even forget what is important to us, but thanks to this family we are a part of, we are constantly reminded of those things, making this one of the best Christmases yet.

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mormons, PO-lice, and hot chocolate

“Are y’all Mormons?”
“Nope, we are just handing out hot chocolate because we love our neighborhood”
“Well, whenever there is a group of white people, it’s usually Mormons or the PO-lice”

Just one of the conversations we had while handing out hot chocolate!

This past Sunday, we headed out in two groups with eight gallons of delicious, homemade hot chocolate and a couple bags of marshmallows between us. We split up in different directions and set to work setting up the stands. As usual, the kids out-numbered the adults, but we worked together and got ready to start passing out the yummy drinks. People weren’t lining up, but we were all so encouraged by the people God did send our way; the kids loved giving the hot chocolate, and everyone who stopped received it openly. One kind lady, in particular, was very excited.  She saw us from across the street, dropped her broom, and headed over. When she asked why we were giving out free hot chocolate (Yes, it’s free, and no we don’t want money!), we answered simply with, “We just want to show that we love our neighborhood.” After about thirty minutes of everyone singing (sometimes screaming), “Free hot chocolate” and getting a most excellent sugar rush, we all headed back indoors for pizza and conversation. All in all, it was a heart warming experience to serve and watch the kids as they were serving.

reverse take 2!

Halloween Night, a night where most kids go out door to door, dressed up, yelling “trick or treat” to get some free candy, but we’re Soma, so we do things a bit differently.  This year, just like last (I feel a tradition starting), we did Reverse Trick or Treating in the rain and cold weather (of course, most of us love cold weather as opposed to warm, so this worked out well for us).

For those of you who have no idea what that entails: we took tons of candy, put them in little bags, and we went out door to door to GIVE these bags to the people in our neighborhood. 

It was nice to see all the kids dressed up and excited to give these bags of candy away.  Instead of traditional trick or treating where the kids are focused on getting candy, our kids all hovered around the doors, hoping they were the ones to give the candy at that house.

We had a few people who remembered us from last year, others who remembered us from other events we’ve done in the neighborhood and, of course, new faces, which for me was the most exciting part. 

One man opened his door, ready to give out candy, but when we stopped him and explained what we were doing, I saw a light in his eye.  The light was mostly confusion, as if it was crazy to do this in our neighborhood (well it probably is, but it’s never stopped us before, and won’t stop us in the future), but also a little light of hope for the area.  He happily accepted our bag of candy, wished us a wonderful and safe night, and we were off to the next house; and I felt energized.

We stuffed 180 bags of candy and came home with only three.  It was a good feeling knowing we were able to see people, show them we’re in the neighborhood, and show them we care about them.  These are the times I see the path we’ve taken as a family, and that I have taken personally,  is the path we are meant to be on.

And as a family…it worked!

If I told you that we were going to help a neighboring missional community with childcare while they had a visioning meeting, you might think, “Aww, that’s nice”. If I told you that we were going to show up with 20 of our own kids, you might think, “That will add an interesting dynamic”. If I told you that we were also going to transport bags of Halloween candy and ask the children to pack goodie bags, you might start to think, “That’s a little crazy”. In black and white, it looks a little crazy. In living color, it felt a little chaotic, but when all was said and done, it brought to light the beauty of functioning as a family. Around piles of candy, you saw adults and kids working side by side; you saw the older kids taking the younger kids under their wings, counting out five pieces of candy and putting them in bags. Same thing happened on the playground: adults were pushing swings, taking on “bathroom duty”, helping with the teeter totter, guarding the entrances and in turn the older kids were pitching in to help with the younger kids. No job was too small for an adult and no job was too big for a child. We embraced each moment together. At the end of the night, kids didn’t want to leave and we all gained appreciation for individual giftings/quirks and the value of doing even this small piece of life together. As a family, it was not only nice, interesting and crazy…it worked!

beautiful grace

On Sunday afternoon, we loaded up food, blankets, and kids and headed to Alum Creek Beach for a celebration of new life.  Some of our girls had made the decision to show the world who they were in Christ, through baptism.  As we drove, we chatted about eternity, restoration, and Scripture.  They were giddy and anxious, excited and pensive; and once we arrived, all those emotions were heightened.  The chilly breeze and not-so-warm water only added to the anxiety, but these girls had the support of an extended family to spur them on.  They boldly proclaimed their identity in Jesus before I immersed them; and they came up out of the water with a sense that God had made them into new creations.  Smiling faces and proud hearts greeted them on the shore.  We ended our time by singing Beautiful Things by Gungor (a great selection by another one of our girls):

“All around, hope is springing up from this old ground; out of chaos, life is being found in You.  You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust.  You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.”

I never would have guessed God would use some small town girl, like me, to show these young city girls who Jesus is, but He did.  He has put His deep love for them into me, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to be Light to them.  These girls found life in our Father and are beautiful examples of His grace.