Surrender – Must it be so hard?

There was a time when I thought that surrendering to God, to His way, was a hard but necessary occasional act. You do it and get it over with… and on occasion you may come to that place again. Over time and experience I have realized that abandoning myself to God is a continuous and necessarily repetitive act on my part. This has become clearer than ever in the time since Tim and I moved to Nashville. My own plans tend to take over in the daily. My ideas, my thoughts, my worries, my self creeps in and I veer towards a path that is my way instead of His. Many times, unintentionally.

There have been times when just getting to the point of deciding to surrender something in my life to God seemed so excruciatingly painful. Which…it can be hard to surrender. We are still in the flesh after all. I have found though, for me, that the decision to surrender has become easier. Not because I’ve become better or more righteous. Not because I’ve had more practice in surrendering…though I have. I’ve found that it has gotten easier as I’ve come to know my God better and better.

The more time I spend with God and the closer I become to Him, the more clearly I see Him. The more I sit with Him, the more I remember His faithfulness and wisdom when I have gone His way. (Or how things went not so well when I went my way instead.) The more I rest in Him, the more I know His love and desires for me. The more I lean into His heart, the more I feel His good intentions towards me. This. This nearness to God is what continues to make the decision to surrender to Him easier.

Truthfully, the path of His way sometimes seems to get crazier and it certainly doesn’t always make sense to me. It doesn’t usually look like I’d want it to and things don’t go how I think they’d go. But I’ve found (sometimes the hard way) that even if my path for myself is good… His path for me is amazing. I’ve found that when I go His way, peace reigns because He’s in control and I don’t have to be.

His plan for us is above and beyond any plan we could imagine for ourselves. The more of ourselves that we can let go of, the more of ourselves that can be released to live in His abundance for us.

As I have drawn nearer to God, He has shown me glimpses of His vision for my life and it’s not anything I would have come up with. I have no doubt that His view of you is more beautiful than you can imagine and His vision for you might blow your mind a little.

We will have times when His way may seem too scary or foolish. We will doubt what God has said about us, what He said He’d do, that His way is better… even doubt that He’s with us. In these moments we must step closer. Lean in a little further. He will be there. We will remember that He is more trustworthy than the fact that the sun will go down today and come back up tomorrow. Then it will be a little easier to at least decide to let go of whatever we’re holding onto, release it to Him, and surrender to His way once again. His abundantly good way…

~ Tiffany

Sunset with God
The place I sometimes go at sunset to sit and talk with God.
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Mission Trip to Houston: Pictures and more…

We’re back! Our first OneLife mission trip this past week was really good. In the last post, we mentioned some of the details about the beginning of the trip. In this post, we wanted to share some pictures from the trip. After we picked up the trailer, money, water bottles, pick up truck, and donated supplies in Adam Brown’s hometown of St. Clair MO, we set out on the highway late Sunday afternoon towards Houston. As we traveled, we began purchasing dehumidifiers, shopvacs, fans, air movers, extension cords and other clean-up supplies at several Lowe’s and Walmart’s we passed along the way.

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Once we arrived, we had 3 full days to work and we ended up working primarily in 3 different homes. The first day we spent in the house of a single mom with 6 children. Her house had flooded about 8 inches which meant everything had to be cut or torn out about a foot above that mark. Sure enough, as we tore out cabinets and dry wall, the studs and insulation were soaked. She was a wonderful lady and we were glad to do what we could there, as well as give her one of the dehumidifiers we purchased. We gave out a few more dehumidifiers, as well as box fans, in this same neighborhood.

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The next day we worked in another home that had been flooded into the second floor. The first floor was completely gutted so we worked on the second floor to tear out bathroom cabinets, floors, and drywall all around. Mold was already growing on the drywall here which is why it is so important to get it cleared out as quickly as possible. These homeowners were actually out of town when the flood came. They happened to return that evening just as we were about to leave. The lady gave me (Tiffany) a tight hug and we embraced a long while as she, in tears, thanked us for coming.

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We were able to buy a lot more dehumidifiers, fans, and supplies than we could’ve imagined thanks to everyone’s generosity in giving! On top of what we had already passed out, Adam was able to take 15 dehumidifiers, 24 fans, 20 extension cords, and cleaning supplies to Ecclesia Houston, a local church near downtown Houston. They distributed them over the next few days to people in need in the downtown area. He also went to the city of Beaumont TX, a place that still had no running water at that time, and delivered the 7,000 bottles of water we collected and bought, as well as 4 shopvacs, extension cords, paper towels, cleaning materials, mops, and bleach.

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Our last day was spent helping a man closer to downtown Houston. He owns a small flooring business, but was overwhelmed by the amount of work of getting his property back to normal. Before we left at the end of the day, we prayed for him. He started crying and said “I see the heart of God in you. And that gives me hope.” He was so thankful to have help that day. Here’s a picture of the team of people who worked in his house.

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On our way back to Nashville, we had long discussions about what it means to serve and participate in the ministry of reconciliation. Those we had the opportunity to serve were genuinely thankful and were so glad to know they were not alone in facing the challenges of recovering from this flood.

We would love to make more trips to Houston to participate in the relief and recovery efforts taking place there.  Thank you to Adam for initiating and planning the trip. Thank you to Adam’s parents for letting us use their pick up truck, The Ridge church that took up offerings and let us use their trailer, and the Freedom Fellowship Church for being incredible hosts. A BIG “Thank You” to everyone who donated money, time, and encouraging words to make this trip possible. We were amazed by your compassion and generosity!

~ Tim and Tiffany

Mission Trip to Houston

Neighborhood Pic 2

We wanted to share an amazing opportunity that we have to serve the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Adam Brown – a friend and OneLife Advisory Board Member – has secured a pickup truck, a trailer, and over 5,000 water bottles from The Ridge Church in Villa Ridge Missouri where he grew up. We  are leaving tomorrow at 4 P.M. with Adam to go and pick up the vehicle and supplies.

Then, on Sunday, we will drive out to Texas where we will join efforts with the Freedom Fellowship Church in Magnolia TX. They are serving as a hub for volunteers and supplies in that area.

Adam owns and operates a home improvement business, so he will be leading us and other volunteers into accessible neighborhoods where the water has receded enough to safely and effectively begin the hard work of restoring homes – things like ripping up carpet, taking furniture out to the side of the road, and cutting out soiled dry wall. The goal is to dry homes out before black mold sets in and permanent damage takes place.

Here’s where you come in. We are asking for donations so we can purchase equipment and supplies for doing the work. Specifically, we are going to buy:

Box Fans – to dry out the homes. These will stay with the homeowners we serve.
Dehumidifiers – these too will stay with the homeowners we serve.
Shopvacs – these will stay with the Freedom Fellowship church staff to resource future volunteers and their work.
Extension Cords – these will stay with either the homeowners or the church staff.
Food – this will help offset our meal expenses during the trip. However, some meals may be provided by the church while we are there.

If you would like to make a donation to help us purchase these items, donate here.

We will return next weekend and plan to post a few pictures of the trip and the items we purchased. Please pray for us as we travel and seek to be a blessing to people who are in the process of recovering from this tragedy. Thanks!

Feeling the Neighborhood Vibe… Literally

As you know, God has been leading Tim and I to start doing ministry in a particular North Nashville neighborhood. We’ve been spending regular time there… usually at least 2 or 3 times a week. Lots of praying, listening to folks that live there, playing basketball with kids, meeting with community leaders… taking in the neighborhood. This is a season of immersion and interaction for us. [Link to blog]

I thought I’d share a story of one of my experiences with you as we’ve been taking in the vibe of this area.

One Saturday morning we went to hang out at a park in the area and some kids invited us to play basketball with them. I think this was really the first time we went into the neighborhood to just hangout. Everything went well and after a while we left to continue with our day. The strange thing is that for the rest of the day I was in a serious funk. Out of nowhere I was feeling depressed, discouraged, aggravated, very tired and worn  down. My body was sore and I just kept wanting to sleep the whole day. That is not like me, especially when it’s a nice day out (which it was.) The day slowly passed and I kept thinking… what is wrong with me?

That night as I was falling asleep, I asked, “God, what is wrong with me? What’s going on today?” Probably should have asked that much earlier!

I felt like he said, “It is a spirit of oppression.” I was exhausted so I fell right asleep. When we woke up the next morning, Tim and I talked about the previous day and he prayed for me. As He prayed, the Spirit also told him that it was a spirit of oppression. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition for the word oppression. It said “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” That made sense because this neighborhood is in one of Nashville’s historically African American communities. And as we’ve learned some of the history, there has definitely been various kinds of racial and economic oppression over the years.

As the day moved along, I started to feel better, but I spent some time that morning processing the whole thing with God. He told me that this is how some people in the community feel all of the time. That is their norm… which is in stark contrast to your norm. Feeling this will help you to know how to pray, what to pray, and fill you with more compassion.

I’ll be honest, I felt kind of scared at this point and thought… Am I going to have this same experience every time we hang out in the neighborhood? God assured me that when this type of thing happens I don’t need to be overtaken by these feelings and let them dominate. He said “We will go through it together. In Me, you are strong and powerful and these things can’t overcome you. Just stay as close to me as possible and pray for the community.”

I have not experienced feelings like this every time we are there, and certainly nothing so strong. I will tell you though, there’s not a time that we are there that it doesn’t come to mind. When I think about it, I pray in Jesus name for there to be freedom from oppression.  I’m so grateful for this experience because it helps me remember who God is, and to keep praying for this community.

~ Tiffany

 

The Incarnational Pathway – Interaction

About two months ago, we felt like God showed us where our first missional context would be.  After spending time in that area, praying, and reflecting, we feel like God has identified a specific neighborhood within that context for us to focus on.

Osage OneLife
OSAGE NEIGHBORHOOD

The Osage neighborhood is home to the Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School and Fisk Park. It also has a local convenience store. We are super excited to have clarity about our primary missional context!

Now that we have clarity about the specific neighborhood we are being sent to, what’s next? In a previous post, we shared a diagram that maps out a process for doing 7-is-of-incarnational-mission-triangleincarnational mission. The first step is to Immerse ourselves in the neighborhood. We don’t currently live in the neighborhood, so we do this by spending time there doing normal everyday kinds of things, like: playing basketball in the park, walking to the local convenience store and buying a drink. The goal is to be present and quietly participate in the rhythms of the community.

The obvious next step in the process is to Interact with people. This is basically about building social capital with people who currently live in the neighborhood, as well as those who live outside the neighborhood – like church, business, and civic leaders – who can potentially be an asset for the neighborhood.

God has already opened up several doors for us to meet some really cool people who want to see that community flourish. For example, at a local neighborhood association meeting, we met an amazing lady who “just happened to be” the Director of Member Relations at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. She is a tremendously gifted and spiritual woman, as well as a stakeholder in the North Nashville community. After meeting with her, she offered us a sponsored membership at the Chamber. This gives us greater visibility, creates awareness of whats going on in North Nashville, and offers opportunities to connect with people of influence. Wow! What a gift! It’s amazing how God opens doors and, if we have the courage to walk through them, meets us on the other side with all kinds of surprises.

We’re also attending some of the local churches in the vicinity to help us get a feel for some of the good things God is already doing in the neighborhood. We believe God is already at work in the community, and we want to synergize with whatever He is up to!

At some point in the near future, we will be reaching out to the elementary school to explore ways that we can partner with them in, to use the language on their website, “help every student reach their full potential.”

Here are some next steps we would invite you to pray about:

  1. Immersion – that the Spirit will guide our steps as we plan and practice a monthly rhythm of life.
  2. Interaction – that God would open up doors for us to form new relationships with people in the neighborhood.
  3. Partnership – that we will finish developing our strategy to invite people to partner with us in the mission.

 

 

Next Steps Update

Thank you so much for helping us serve the residents of Hadley Park Towers!!! We dropped the items off to these sweet ladies in the picture below. They serve the residents there with giving hearts. I’m so glad we got to meet them. We collected enough items for 10 people, yes! We really appreciate everyone who contributed items and money for this! Thank you!!Hadley Park Donations

Last month we sent out an email update listing off some next steps we were going to take. Here is a short update on how it went.

1. Do a police ride along in that area. Tim did a police ride along in the 613 district of North Nashville. It was really insightful to see the community from the perspective of law enforcement. He got to see some of the challenges facing that area in an up close and personal kind of way.
2. Explore volunteer opportunities at the Hadley Park Community Center. We are still exploring opportunities here. We filled out volunteer applications and are waiting for our background checks to be completed.
3. Set up meetings with already existing organizational leaders in that context i.e churches, non-profits, schools/universities, city council members etc. We are still in the process of doing this. We have already met with several church leaders in the area and were encouraged to see some of the things they are doing to serve the wider North Nashville community. There are plenty of people to meet with, in North Nashville, so we will likely be setting up these kinds of meetings for months to come.
4. Develop an intercessory prayer strategy for people and places in that context. Our first step was to schedule times of prayer walking in the neighborhood. Next, using the Lords Prayer as a model, Tiffany developed a prayer that we can use to pray for the North Nashville community. You can read that prayer here.

 

Lord’s Prayer for North Nashville

We want this missional community to be birthed and bathed in prayer. Using the Lord’s Prayer, Tiffany crafted this for us to use when praying for the community of North Nashville. Would you also take a moment and pray this prayer with us?

Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name.
We love You and call on You to reveal Yourself to North Nashville. Reveal to each person a new identity of being your son or daughter. 

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let Your love and goodness flow through the neighborhood. Break every chain and bring complete freedom. Heal wounds. Restore wholeness. Let sorrow be turned to joy!

Give us this day our daily bread.

Provide safe homes for single moms and sustain them. Provide jobs and resources for those who are lacking. Provide hope and a future for every child. 

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Open hearts to embrace your forgiveness and generosity. Empower the offended to release those who have wronged them.  

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Shine light on the prevailing lies and shut down any schemes of the enemy. We claim victory in Jesus over any spirit of oppression in this neighborhood.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
You are greater than any other power that comes against this neighborhood. We praise you, Lord! Thank you for the works You will do on behalf of this community. Be glorified in this place.

Our Rhythm of Life

Now that we know the exact neighborhood God wants us to start our first missional community in, our next step has been to develop a monthly rhythm of life that will help us live out the story of Jesus in this context. One of the things we see Jesus doing in his ministry is developing the three relationships of UP, IN, and OUT. For example, in Luke 6:12-19 we see Jesus spending time with the Father in prayer (UP). Then he forms a team of 12 disciples (IN). Then they go on mission together to practice and proclaim the kingdom of God (OUT). Using Jesus as our example, we will be organized around developing those same three relationships:

UP: relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit

IN: relationships with people in Christ

OUT: relationships with people not yet in Christ

In order to develop this new rhythm of life, we did two things. First, we got out the whiteboard (yes!) and made a list of ideas for building UP, IN, and OUT relationships. Next, we took some of these ideas and put them on our calendar for the month of June. For example, one of our regular UP activities is to prayer-walk the neighborhood.

One of our regular IN activities is to visit local churches in the area, set up meetings with their leader(s), and discover what kinds of ministries are currently being offered in the neighborhood.

One of our regular OUT activities is playing basketball with kids of all ages at the neighborhood park. The goal is to develop a consistent rhythm of life that spends time building UP, IN, and OUT relationships. Visually, the month of June looks something like this.

June Monthly Rhythm

One of the benefits of developing a monthly rhythm is that it gives us specific activities we can invite people into. Each UP, IN, or OUT event is kind of like a landing point that allows people to orbit into our world and have an “on the ground” experience with us.

We are super excited about how Jesus is continuing to write his story into this neighborhood, and we want to invite you to participate with us in the journey.  As Maragaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” If you want to join a small group of people participating in the mission of the Father, Son, and Spirit to renew all things, let’s have a conversation.

An Opportunity To Serve

Now that God has given us clarity about where our first missional context is, we are proactively looking for ways to serve the people and places in that area.

Hadley Park Towers

This past week we approached the leaders of the Hadley Park Towers, a public housing facility of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency of Nashville that houses disabled and elderly citizens in efficiency and one bedroom apartments. We asked them about ways we could serve the residents that live there.

Hadley Park
HADLEY PARK TOWERS

We ended up having a great conversation with the social worker, and the President – a resident who takes on the responsibility of coordinating various activities and projects for the residents.

They mentioned multiple opportunities to get involved, which we will continue to explore. However, there was one that we felt would be a good starting place in serving this community. They said most of the residents are on a fixed income, and periodically need help with basic household items like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. We were moved by their request and wanted to do something to provide for some of these basic needs.

Our goal is to donate enough items to meet the needs of 10 residents.  If you would like to participate with us in this opportunity to serve some of the residents in a tangible way, just click on the Target House Warming Registry image below.

CS-TARGET_logo

How It Works:

When you make a purchase from the Hadley Towers Target House Warming Gift Registry, the item(s) will ship to a local Target Store. On May 19th we will take a picture of all the items we received (post it to the blog) and then close the gift registry. Then we will deliver the items to the Hadley Park Towers residents who have the greatest need.

NOTE: As you go through the check out process, when you come to the order pick up section, select “White Bridge” or “Nashville West” stores for the shipping location. That way you don’t have to pay for shipping costs. We will pick them up at either store location.

Would you consider helping us purchase these items to donate to the residents of Hadley Towers? Thank you for participating in this opportunity with us!

Our First Missional Context!

We have good news! In our last post we shared a map and invited you to pray and fast with us as we asked God to bring clarity about where our first missional context will be. After praying and fasting for the month of April we feel like the Spirit has revealed that to us! Yes! Take a look at the map below.

First Missional Context

For detailed demographics on the area, see Census Tracts: 136.01, 136.02, 143, 138, 139. This area is projected to experience a degree of gentrification over time, but currently it’s an under-resourced area in Nashville.

God has already opened a door of opportunity for us to serve at a public housing facility for disabled and senior citizens called Hadley Park Towers. We met with some of their staff and asked them what kind of needs the residents have. They mentioned multiple opportunities to get involved, which we will continue to explore. However, there was one that we felt would be a good starting place in serving this community. Most of the residents are on a fixed income and periodically need help with basic household items like soap, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc.

As a way to meet this need, we created an Target House Warming Gift Registry and are inviting people like you to purchase items for donation. To learn more about this opportunity,  click here.

NEXT STEPS
Some next steps for us will be:
1. Do a police ride along in that area.
2. Explore volunteer opportunities at the Hadley Park Community Center.
3. Set up meetings with already existing organizational leaders in that context i.e churches, non-profits, schools/universities, city council members etc.
4. Develop an intercessory prayer strategy for people and places in that context.

PRAYER REQUESTS
That God will open doors for us to serve and add value to this community.
That God will raise up workers for the harvest.
That God will guide us to a person of peace.