backpacks and lepers

In yesterday’s Moravian Texts, I was reminded again that we are to always give God the praise for what He does in our lives.

Luke 17:11-19 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Our Missional Community has been planning a school supply giveaway, and Sunday was the day!  Everyone gave according to what God had called them to, and we had enough supplies to fill 50 backpacks.  We sent out postcards to the kids who attended VBS and invited them to come to dinner and pack a backpack full of supplies for the school year.

We were ready.  Tables were set up.  Folders were sorted by color.  Erasers were lined up.  Boxes of crayons were stacked.  Kleenex boxes were tossed, picked up, tossed, and picked up again (the 18 month old boys ended up at that station).  All the kids and adults from our Missional Community stood ready for an onslaught of kids.

Instead of an onslaught, we ended up with a steady trickle of kids coming and going for an hour.  We gave away over half of the supplies we had gathered and kept the rest in case children come by the house this week.  God provided ample time and opportunity for us to engage and relate to each child that came into the yard.  We were able to start conversations, play, and finally pray and share a meal with all of them.

I am continuously surprised at the attitudes of the kids who come into our house.  They are kind, respectful, obedient, and helpful.  They want to talk with us.  They want to serve us.  They want to just be with us.  It’s not about the tangible items we are giving them (food and school supplies); it’s about the Father’s love we are showing them.

Thank you, Father, for showing us love so that we know how to show it to others.  Help us to always return to give You praise like the one leper instead of forgetting like the other nine.  Amen

fire hydrants, cupcakes, and Jesus

On the days when it’s too hot to move, I can almost guarantee you’ll see our street flooding due to an opened fire hydrant and children of all ages being blasted with the refreshing water.  On one such occasion, I headed out to chat with the monkey-wrench masters and was greeted with the following conversation:

“Do you have any more brownies?”


“What about rice?”


“Why not?”

“Um, cause this is my house and I didn’t make any today.”

“Why don’t you do any activities on Sundays?”

“‘Cause we’re a church and we don’t always do the same things each week.”

“I wanna come to your house.”

“Alright, next time you’re not soaking wet, you come knock on my door and we’ll hang out.”

Ten minutes later, you guessed it, there was a knock at my door.  Four, dry young ladies stood on my front porch with a box of cupcake mix in hand.  Now they’re beginning to get it!  It’s not always about what they can get from us, but instead, about ways they can contribute.  I quickly called our personal Baker (a.k.a Danielle, who’s part of our oikos and lives five blocks away), who I knew would have the ingredients and recipe for frosting.  Not only did she bring those things, but she brought sprinkles, dye, and piping tips and bags.  These girls were in heaven!  What started as a fairly humorous conversation about our house and missional community, turned into a relationship-building, cupcaking-decorating, modeling-Jesus’s-love afternoon.


feeding the 5000 (or 50ish)

This Sunday, our missional community of seven families gathered for our weekly family dinner and “service.” We’re used to a good sized group of people; we have 13 adults and 12 children when we all get together. Planning enough food and space for that many people every week sounds like a task in itself. However, after Vacation Bible School was such a hit, there have been some neighborhood kids that just keep coming back. Our normal group of 25 turned into a group of almost 40. Now, in our own minds, space and food just had to stretch. This Sunday, though, was different.

When I arrived at the Shoemaker’s house, there were only about 20 of us there. I thought tonight was going to be as “normal” as any other Sunday. I was so wrong. The turns, the chaos, the panic, the revelations, and the blessings were about to hit us with an overwhelming force.

At first, a few people showed up at the front door: maybe 5, or 6 people. That was normal enough, and somewhat expected. After all, our Sunday nights just seemed to get a little bigger each time. But this time shocked us all. Children poured in through the front door. At first, we recognized them. Some were neighborhood kids that we’ve all interacted with at some point, whether on a Sunday or during VBS. Then the faces became more unfamiliar. Children and teens who we had never met, kids whose names were never known to us, came through the door and jumped in the line for food. By the time kids stopped showing up, there were probably 30 kids (not including our own children) all piled into two small rooms. And there were 13 adults. Let the chaos begin!

As for the food, we were all thinking the same thing: “There won’t be enough.” There couldn’t possibly be enough food to go around and feed all of these children! It simply wasn’t planned for, and couldn’t possibly have been anticipated. We fed the children first, just in case we ran out. I’m sure, like myself, some of the adults wondered if they would get to eat at all. Once the children were all fed, we could go assess the damage, and grab what was left over. I was one of the last adults to grab my plate of food. I expected there to be NOTHING left. And oh my goodness was I in for a shock. There was not only enough food for the remaining adults, but there was MORE THAN ENOUGH. We were able to eat our fill, and at the end of the night, there was even a bit of leftovers. The Lord provided. He took what little we had, and stretched it to feed the many. Now maybe this wasn’t seven loaves of bread, two fish, and over 5,000 people, but the Lord revealed something to us that day: HE will provide. I really felt my faith had been challenged for ever having a shadow of a doubt.

After everyone was finished eating, we began our lesson. We split up all the kids into groups. Each group had about eight kids, and the two adults per group were to talk about prayer with the kids, and pray with them individually and as a group. For me, this took me out of my comfort zone. I love kids and love to play with kids, but to pray with them, especially kids I didn’t know? Any other day I would have wanted to crawl into my shell and disappear. But this day was different. I had a confidence, I knew what to say, and I knew what kids hungered the most for the Lord. The feelings of uneasiness vanished, and the courageous response resonated throughout our missional community. Everyone stepped forward, and never took a second guess as to whether or not they could handle it. Our courage came from the Lord, and my, oh my, is He good at challenging us when we least expect it.

After everyone went home, the members of our missional community gathered to discuss the afternoon and end in prayer. A few things people talked about resonate in my mind today, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them for the past couple days.

Stretching: The Lord showed us this day that we need to have faith in His provisions, and that He will stretch whatever needs to be stretched for His glory. In this instance, food and space. I don’t remember ever feeling cramped or like there were too many people. I don’t know how we fit that many people in one area, or how we fed them all. I can honestly say, the Lord truly “stretched” what needed to be stretched.

Flexibility: We thought, as a whole, that we were flexible. We made it through VBS with 50 kids and 7-10 adults each day, right? We were challenged on our flexibility, and by His grace, and ONLY by His grace (I can assure you), we made it out alive.

And the stories. Some of the stories that the adults shared about the children were astonishing. One girl, who was anxious about the amount of people present STILL said that we just needed to invite more. Without ever considering her OWN feelings of stress or uncomfortability, she wanted to step forward, and step out on faith, for Jesus Christ.

This last Sunday may not have gone as planned. It may not have gone as smoothly as anticipated. It went better. We reached more children for Christ, and learned a few things along the way. As adults who have claimed to have faith and who want to serve the Lord, we were taught valuable lessons in faith, courage, and flexibility. I believe the blessings we received that day, amidst all the chaos, have inspired and impacted us in ways we didn’t anticipate when we showed up for our “normal” missional community that afternoon.

be still

Here’s the set up:  we’ve been resting and abiding in our Father, learning how to be family for several months; VBS took place a month ago; Lemonade stand has been running every Friday since; over 30 kids walked through our front door on Sunday afternoon (half of them we knew, the other half we didn’t).  I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say, we’re on the upswing of growth and work.  Despite our feeling overwhelmed, and even a bit panicked at moments, Oddie describes the night so well:

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

What happens when God answers prayer? It seems like we are more prepared for the answer to be “No.”, “Not right now.”, or unnerving silence, but When God takes confidence in you, puts HIS plan in you and knows it will come to fruition, How do we respond? For me it’s almost an “Oh Sh*t!” moment. Sometimes it’s a struggle to know how to take it all in, accept the love, success, or dream come true. Maybe we’re afraid of success, or Jesus is wooing us out of our comfort zone, or the “Be careful what you wish for” syndrome, or maybe we just aren’t ready for a “yes”.

I know Sunday I was anxious, overwhelmed, uncomfortable, apprehensive, fearful, and then I heard a “shhhhh…” followed by “Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)”. Be still. Be comforted. And be THANKFUL.  Thankfulness brings joy, not fear or feelings of being overwhelmed. I should be full of praise for Him in all things and remember I have asked and received. There are people who live a lifetime and never experience God’s answer to prayer, never witness God’s handiwork, and will never know God’s sense of humor.

Sunday, we saw God at work in the community and it WAS overwhelming, uncomfortable, scary, But God will give us strength, we won’t get tired, we wont become weary. I trust in God who can move mountains. I was once like those kids, God made a difference in my life; HE will make a difference in those kids lives!

HIS answer was yes. Are YOU ready?”

li’l’ PoP

“The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.  These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.  Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.  Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.  “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’  If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.”  Luke 10:1-6

The concept of a Person of Peace (PoP) that Luke writes about here is something fairly new to me, but it has rocked my world.  The idea that the Holy Spirit has gone ahead of me to prepare someone’s heart in a way that they will like me, serve me, and be willing to listen to what God might be saying through me is huge.  After studying this, God graciously gave me the opportunity to experience it firsthand.

Meet Dee (name intentionally changed).

We first met Dee when she and her cousin stopped by our house advertising their newly opening dog-walking business (we just so happen to be their only customers).  We gladly let the two tweens take our active dog, Linus, on walks at least once a week.  I’m not sure who walks who, but they all come back happy and thirsty each time.

The next natural step was to invite Dee and her friends to VBS, and they came.  Not only did she come, but she brought along six of her cousins.  After the week of VBS, Dee stopped by regularly to just spend time with me, cuddle Judah, and hang out in our backyard.  Recently, she has begun coming early to Missional Community each week to help me cook and set-up.

In the midst of all these simple opportunities to show Christ’s love to Dee, she brought over her Bible to our house to read with me last week.  After reading the first 15 verses of John, Dee decided to begin following Jesus.  It was obvious, though, by our conversation that this was not her first encounter with God, Scripture, or faith.  Someone has been planting seeds, turning the soil, and encouraging her for quite some time.  This just so happened to be harvest time!  It was also obvious to me that the words coming out of my mouth were not my own.  Evangelism is not my base gifting, but it’s certainly becoming an area of growth and stretching right now.

I love this girl; she has a sweet spirit, an intelligent mind, and a servant’s heart.  God reminded me through her that He’s always been using young people to advance His Kingdom (think David or Mary!).  I can’t wait to see how He uses Dee as she grows in Him.

Truth delivered


There was once a bright sunny day.

The clouds had to stay away.

For a Community made their way

To a wonderful place to stay.


They set up their tasty food,

And then explained what to do.

Why you could only guess,

Passing out Bibles, Yes!


God set up a donation,

From a wonderful location,

Of the books they so loved,

To share with the young!


With a prayer to start the journey,

Of the Holy Spirit’s urging.

They knew hearts were ready;


So they split in to groups

And went out giving Truth

In the form of a book.


They were all able to find

The right houses. It was divine!


With a ring or a knock

They had the chance to talk

Of the fun exciting week.

That made the devil weak!


And of the life changing decision,

The young kids did mention!

They gave away Bibles,

One of God’s many inventions.


They remembered to share

Of the tasty food prepared.

And hoped they showed care

For the youngest ones there.


With a skip in their step,

They walked back with a pep.

For Courben did pray

Over the food on that day.


So now you know,

What God has sowed

Why you can only guess,

We have been so blessed!

backyard vbs

Our Father, who provides everything we need, certainly provided for us this week!

We prayed He would provide enough food for each night since we were feeding dinner to all the kids and some of their parents; and He did.  One morning, I opened the door to find three garbage bags full of bread and goodies donated to us by Panera Bread.

We prayed He would provide enough adult hands to help each night; and He did.  The night we had upwards of 50 children in our backyard, we had nearly all the adults from Southern Orchards Missional Community plus a few other friends and neighbors there to lend a hand.

We prayed there would be peace and kindness throughout the week; and there was.  The older kids helped the younger kids, attitudes were great, and there were several instances of children having servants’ hearts.

We prayed the children would clearly hear God’s voice and do what He says; and they did.  Several kids made the decision to put away their old ways and to choose to love God with all their hearts and lives forever.

We prayed the neighborhood would be responsive; and they were.  We had several parents join us on the last day for our celebration that included Little Caesar’s Pizza and the lemonade stand.  They had nothing but great things to say about the week, and many were proud of the decisions their kids had made.  We even had lemonade customers comment on how the Lord would bless us for what we’re doing for the neighborhood.

We prayed God would open doors to relationships; and he did.  Most nights ended with hose-soaking fun with the neighborhood kids after all our Missional Community kids were gone or in bed.

What an incredible week!

Now, our prayer is that the Lord would begin to mesh the families who have committed to this Missional Community in the Southern Orchards neighborhood with the families who live here.


In our huddles (discipleship groups), we are always talking about “what God is saying to us” and “what we’re going to do about it.”  In this, we’re constantly making plans to change and act on what God is saying.  On a larger scale, we took one other couple with us to 3DM‘s Learning Community in Cincinnati, Ohio for a four day intensive workshop on huddles, discipleship, and missional communities.  On the final evening, the four of us sat down together to develop a six month plan for our Missional Community based on what we were hearing God say.  We have worked hard at creating an oikos (extended family) with the families who have committed to being apart of this first MC, but we knew God was calling us to extend that oikos into our neighborhood.  So, part of our plan for the next six months is to be intentional about this.  What better way to build a family than by throwing a block social (block party + ice cream social) for our neighbors.  We hung up flyers, invited anyone we talked to, and got to work.  We even had one young girl volunteer to come early and set up.  The afternoon was a success!  We had families come because they wanted to get to know their neighbors (and probably because we were sharing food), so we exchanged stories and addresses.  We’re definitely looking forward to intertwining our lives with these families, and we will continue to seek out those who are open to us because of the Holy Spirit’s work on their lives.

spring clean!

Coincidentally, today is Earth Day and also South Orchard Missional Community’s Spring Clean.  We invited our neighbors, armed ourselves with gloves, trash bags, and smiles, and cleaned up one square block around our house.  It went so well that five households have committed to setting aside another evening to clean up more streets nearby.  Since the weather turned a bit chilly, we invited everyone into our house to share dinner afterwards instead of grilling and spending time in the backyard.  I’d say our toys are getting some pretty good use these days, and our kids are making lots of new friends.  One of the young boys from next door said he’d be back next week; someone must have made a good impression on him!

organic or organized?

“This would be even better if we had mouth guards,” were the words from one of the neighborhood boys.  Did we plan, advertise, and market Backyard Boxing?  Nope, not a bit.  We simply spent time outside with members of our oikos.  Our kiddos were battling it out and ended up with an audience.  Sure enough, the next logical step was to let our neighbors in on the fun.  There were no major injuries, just a scratch from one of our rosebushes, but let’s hope we don’t get a knock on our door from their mothers.

We hold organized gatherings throughout our week (huddles and Missional Community), but just organically spending time together (going for ice cream, letting our kids pretend to be Mike Tyson, and everything in between) is highly encouraged.  We are striving to be a family on mission (and that family isn’t just our own nuclear family).  Mike Breen wrote an incredible post about this very thing, check it out here.