The new website has been launched (thank you Andy Smith for building it from scratch!).   We’ve had lots of interest, questions, and encouragement from others this week, and we thank you!
We use the word “Home” and we use the word “Church” in what we are doing, and frankly, they are often interchangeable.  We struggled for quite a while over even using the word “Church” to describe our integrated worship gathering times (only one part of the overall vision).  That word often causes dissension and a tribal emotion rather than a love of being clothed in the shared identity that a family of believers in Christ carries throughout the four corners of the earth.  We love both of those words, “Home” and “Church,” and thus decided to use them together.  For even though we are not set up as a corporate church but rather as a not-for-profit organization we all 1) grow our spiritual roots in the Home, 2) we gather together as the Church, and 3) we live our lives in that shared Identity in order to make a difference in the world.  We meet in a Home with the hope that this shared space represents the coming and going that happens in and out of every family/Home each day.  It also represents the fact that our faith is strengthened within the walls of the Home and is exercised there in order to grow and have an impact in the outside day-to-day living that each person carries.
To answer many questions is actually very simple:
  • WHO? (You)  You were created to connect and to celebrate with your Creator and all He has created.
  • WHAT? (You)  You have an impact every day, a calling to live out, and the people who need you, need you to live it.
  • WHERE? (You)  You have concentric circles of influence that are different from any other person’s, and by taking Active Love with you wherever you go, God will delight in using you to make eternal differences.
  • WHEN? (You)  Your days and nights are filled with activity around the same clock as everyone else in the world.  24 hours a day, you are, and your life is impacting someone.  (If you are not really living, then your lack is also having an impact.)
  • WHY? (You)  As you love and serve, you make a difference in others, and God also grows you.
  • HOW? (You)  You just have to walk it and find out!  Love is a mystery—your faith with God’s faithful power at work through you—but no one else can make this miracle happen in your life…. it starts with you.  YOU, being a Home and YOU, being the Church.
This did not seem cheesy in my head, but it’s more difficult to articulate than I thought.  Allow me to offer some examples of what this is we are doing, and perhaps you will understand:
Mike spends time each week driving a few people to places that they cannot drive themselves—grocery store, hospital visits, doctor visits.  Simple?  Yes.  Impacting?  You had better believe it!
Maybe you’ve seen the fishing pictures I’ve put on facebook—people from the community keep coming to meet us, to throw a line in the water, to enjoy some peace and quiet or have meaningful conversations.
We have hosted family gatherings here for others, where our family works behind the scenes to keep things clean or refill beverage containers, and in so doing, we have had some incredible conversations with people we would have never known.  For example, a beautiful couple will be bringing their daughter here to fish…  A sixteen year old girl who is wheelchair bound, suffering from severe cerebral palsy, only “coming awake” to say “ma ma” and make jibberish noises when she runs a fever.  Once well, she returns to her shell and disappears from them again.  One thing her parents know that Morgan enjoys… is… fishing.  So, yes, we’ll be seeing that family often and offering them what we can when we can.  Peace.
In trying to be real with others and BE the Church body, rather than just talk about it… inside and out of every Home… we (the group of families) have faced some pretty crazy things too.  Last week was incredibly hard, but every single day, something amazing happened to keep us going.  
For instance, we have a friend who mowed several weeks ago with a tractor to get the initial spaces started.  Mike has been keeping up with a push mower until we have equipment someday (um, amazing weight loss plan, for realz!).  An avid gardener was here to visit the other day and said to me, “Ami, this is a HUGE amount of work!  And money!”  I said, “Ms. Shirley, we’re taking it one day at a time and praying about absolutely everything.  In fact, ‘Jesus, we really need someone to show up at the door to offer to bush hog for us!’ That’s really all we can do, Ms. Shirley.  Pray.  And we will keep growing only what we can when we can.” Then Ms. Shirley and I kept chatting away.  THE VERY NEXT DAY, around 7:30 p.m., a green pick-up truck drove onto the property and a man came to the door asking Mike if he could bush hog the land for us, saying that he used to work in the fields and sold some hay…  SOOOO…  he will also be doing a few additional jobs in exchange for clearing the ground while being able to sell the hay (answering more than I asked)!
I told my friend Shannon just today that I am reading through the Gospels with the kids right now (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the accounts of the life of Jesus), and the stories are FLYING off the page—the people have names to us!  For example, the demon-possessed boy was here on Saturday (long story), and people in need of food, healing, or help… they come here.  Along with those in need, we are also encountering skeptics and scribes.  My kids don’t believe that the Gospels are fable or only stuff that happened a long time ago.  Why?  Because they can relate to it so clearly.
To write the stories, you may or may not even believe me.   The reality of this place is different from what we imagined, and we truly don’t know what tomorrow will hold; but people are experiencing Love, and then the Love of Christ and a new surrender to the Cross begins the life-change.
We had an unexpected marriage counseling dinner with a couple who is barely holding on, and this is what God painted just for them that night.  We are praying that He will help them re-Create what their hard days have stolen.
Someday, we plan to open the artist studio, but for now it will begin in the basement.  Someday we hope to have wi-fi that reaches to many indoor AND outdoor seating spaces so that people can come to Open Hours in the Connection Café.  You can see on the website some of the spaces that we hope to grow into.  For today, though, people come to the water.  
And we are seeing the pages of the bible leap off of the paper and into real life.  For years, we have read it, memorized it, shared it.  We have talked about it, listened to people talk about it, and even paid people large salaries to talk about it.  I sure hope that HOMES all over the world rely on it, and trust the Lord enough to Live it.  When YOUR HOME is Wide Open… and when YOU are the Church, then God’s faithful power will use YOU to answer a whole lot of questions out there.  And right now, with our uncertain days, there are a LOT of questions.  And YOU may lead to the Answer.
Blessings today, friends!  Don’t be afraid to BE there for the people around you.  Remember the line “If you build it, they will come?”  Well, it’s true!  And if you live it… well… you’ll see.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  ~Matthew 5:14-15 (ESV)